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Piers M. De F. Forster, Keith P. Shine, and Ann R. Webb

Abstract

High-resolution measurements in the spectral region of 280–400 nm using a double monochromator are compared with detailed radiative transfer calculations at Reading, United Kingdom (52°N, 0°), for clear and totally overcast days, using aerosol and cloud information deduced from empirical methods. For clear skies, instrument and model agree well in the UVA (320–400 nm), but agreement is worse in the UVB (280–320 nm). A number of possible reasons for the discrepancies are explored. Volcanic aerosols in the stratosphere of the model are found to improve agreement between the model and the instrument for high solar zenith angles by increasing the model UVB irradiances by as much as 6%. Convolving the model surface irradiances with the bandpass of the instrument leads to smaller differences between instrument and model at short wavelengths and also reduces the noisiness of the difference. When the model included stratospheric aerosol and the instrument's bandpass function, UVB irradiances within 10% of the measured irradiances could be produced by the model for clear skies. For cloudy conditions, differences between instrument and model are larger, reaching 20%, integrated over the UVB.

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Andrew Heymsfield, Darrel Baumgardner, Paul DeMott, Piers Forster, Klaus Gierens, and Bernd Kärcher

This article reviews the current state of understanding of the science of contrails: 1) how they are formed, 2) their microphysical properties as they evolve into contrail cirrus and whether their microphysical properties can be distinguished from natural cirrus, and 3) the ice-nucleating properties of soot aerosols and whether these aerosols can nucleate cirrus crystals. Key gaps and underlying uncertainties in our understanding of contrails and their effect on local, regional, and global climate are identified. These include 1) better quantification of the fraction of ice number and mass that survives the vortex phase and the aircraft-specific influences on the vortex dynamics, 2) more accurate measurements of the ice crystal size distributions of contrail cirrus and cirrus in general, which are uncertain because of instrument limitations, and 3) more measurements of the ice-nucleating properties of aircraft exhaust and other ambient ice nuclei in situ under cirrus-forming conditions. Future field campaigns aimed at satisfying measurement needs are proposed.

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Steven C. Sherwood, Sandrine Bony, Olivier Boucher, Chris Bretherton, Piers M. Forster, Jonathan M. Gregory, and Bjorn Stevens

Abstract

The traditional forcing–feedback framework has provided an indispensable basis for discussing global climate changes. However, as analysis of model behavior has become more detailed, shortcomings and ambiguities in the framework have become more evident, and physical effects unaccounted for by the traditional framework have become interesting. In particular, the new concept of adjustments, which are responses to forcings that are not mediated by the global-mean temperature, has emerged. This concept, related to the older ones of climate efficacy and stratospheric adjustment, is a more physical way of capturing unique responses to specific forcings. We present a pedagogical review of the adjustment concept, why it is important, and how it can be used. The concept is particularly useful for aerosols, where it helps to organize what has become a complex array of forcing mechanisms. It also helps clarify issues around cloud and hydrological response, transient versus equilibrium climate change, and geoengineering.

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Mark D. Zelinka, Stephen A. Klein, Karl E. Taylor, Timothy Andrews, Mark J. Webb, Jonathan M. Gregory, and Piers M. Forster

Abstract

Using five climate model simulations of the response to an abrupt quadrupling of CO2, the authors perform the first simultaneous model intercomparison of cloud feedbacks and rapid radiative adjustments with cloud masking effects removed, partitioned among changes in cloud types and gross cloud properties. Upon CO2 quadrupling, clouds exhibit a rapid reduction in fractional coverage, cloud-top pressure, and optical depth, with each contributing equally to a 1.1 W m−2 net cloud radiative adjustment, primarily from shortwave radiation. Rapid reductions in midlevel clouds and optically thick clouds are important in reducing planetary albedo in every model. As the planet warms, clouds become fewer, higher, and thicker, and global mean net cloud feedback is positive in all but one model and results primarily from increased trapping of longwave radiation. As was true for earlier models, high cloud changes are the largest contributor to intermodel spread in longwave and shortwave cloud feedbacks, but low cloud changes are the largest contributor to the mean and spread in net cloud feedback. The importance of the negative optical depth feedback relative to the amount feedback at high latitudes is even more marked than in earlier models. The authors show that the negative longwave cloud adjustment inferred in previous studies is primarily caused by a 1.3 W m−2 cloud masking of CO2 forcing. Properly accounting for cloud masking increases net cloud feedback by 0.3 W m−2 K−1, whereas accounting for rapid adjustments reduces by 0.14 W m−2 K−1 the ensemble mean net cloud feedback through a combination of smaller positive cloud amount and altitude feedbacks and larger negative optical depth feedbacks.

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Christopher J. Smith, Julia A. Crook, Rolf Crook, Lawrence S. Jackson, Scott M. Osprey, and Piers M. Forster

Abstract

In recent years, the idea of geoengineering, artificially modifying the climate to reduce global temperatures, has received increasing attention because of the lack of progress in reducing global greenhouse gas emissions. Stratospheric sulfate injection (SSI) is a geoengineering method proposed to reduce planetary warming by reflecting a proportion of solar radiation back into space that would otherwise warm the surface and lower atmosphere. The authors analyze results from the Met Office Hadley Centre Global Environment Model, version 2, Carbon Cycle Stratosphere (HadGEM2-CCS) climate model with stratospheric emissions of 10 Tg yr−1 of SO2, designed to offset global temperature rise by around 1°C. A reduction in concentrating solar power output of 5.9% on average over land is shown under SSI relative to a baseline future climate change scenario (RCP4.5) caused by a decrease in direct radiation. Solar photovoltaic energy is generally less affected as it can use diffuse radiation, which increases under SSI, at the expense of direct radiation. The results from HadGEM2-CCS are compared with the Goddard Earth Observing System Chemistry–Climate Model (GEOSCCM) from the Geoengineering Model Intercomparison Project (GeoMIP), with 5 Tg yr−1 emission of SO2. In many regions, the differences predicted in solar energy output between the SSI and RCP4.5 simulations are robust, as the sign of the changes for both HadGEM2-CCS and GEOSCCM agree. Furthermore, the sign of the total and direct annual mean radiation changes evaluated by HadGEM2-CCS agrees with the sign of the multimodel mean changes of an ensemble of GeoMIP models over the majority of the world.

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Guy P. Brasseur, Mohan Gupta, Bruce E. Anderson, Sathya Balasubramanian, Steven Barrett, David Duda, Gregg Fleming, Piers M. Forster, Jan Fuglestvedt, Andrew Gettelman, Rangasayi N. Halthore, S. Daniel Jacob, Mark Z. Jacobson, Arezoo Khodayari, Kuo-Nan Liou, Marianne T. Lund, Richard C. Miake-Lye, Patrick Minnis, Seth Olsen, Joyce E. Penner, Ronald Prinn, Ulrich Schumann, Henry B. Selkirk, Andrei Sokolov, Nadine Unger, Philip Wolfe, Hsi-Wu Wong, Donald W. Wuebbles, Bingqi Yi, Ping Yang, and Cheng Zhou

Abstract

Under the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Aviation Climate Change Research Initiative (ACCRI), non-CO2 climatic impacts of commercial aviation are assessed for current (2006) and for future (2050) baseline and mitigation scenarios. The effects of the non-CO2 aircraft emissions are examined using a number of advanced climate and atmospheric chemistry transport models. Radiative forcing (RF) estimates for individual forcing effects are provided as a range for comparison against those published in the literature. Preliminary results for selected RF components for 2050 scenarios indicate that a 2% increase in fuel efficiency and a decrease in NOx emissions due to advanced aircraft technologies and operational procedures, as well as the introduction of renewable alternative fuels, will significantly decrease future aviation climate impacts. In particular, the use of renewable fuels will further decrease RF associated with sulfate aerosol and black carbon. While this focused ACCRI program effort has yielded significant new knowledge, fundamental uncertainties remain in our understanding of aviation climate impacts. These include several chemical and physical processes associated with NOx–O3–CH4 interactions and the formation of aviation-produced contrails and the effects of aviation soot aerosols on cirrus clouds as well as on deriving a measure of change in temperature from RF for aviation non-CO2 climate impacts—an important metric that informs decision-making.

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