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Surabi Menon
,
Anthony D. Del Genio
,
Dorothy Koch
, and
George Tselioudis

Abstract

In this paper the coupling of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) general circulation model (GCM) to an online sulfur chemistry model and source models for organic matter and sea salt that is used to estimate the aerosol indirect effect is described. The cloud droplet number concentration is diagnosed empirically from field experiment datasets over land and ocean that observe droplet number and all three aerosol types simultaneously; corrections are made for implied variations in cloud turbulence levels. The resulting cloud droplet number is used to calculate variations in droplet effective radius, which in turn allows one to predict aerosol effects on cloud optical thickness and microphysical process rates. The aerosol indirect effect is calculated by differencing the top-of-the-atmosphere net cloud radiative forcing for simulations with present-day versus preindustrial emissions. Both the first and second indirect effects are explored. The sensitivity of the results presented here to cloud parameterization assumptions that control the vertical distribution of cloud occurrence, the autoconversion rate, and the aerosol scavenging rate, each of which feeds back significantly on the model aerosol burden, are tested. The global mean aerosol indirect effect for all three aerosol types ranges from −1.55 to −4.36 W m−2 in the simulations. The results are quite sensitive to the preindustrial background aerosol burden, with low preindustrial burdens giving strong indirect effects, and to a lesser extent to the anthropogenic aerosol burden, with large burdens giving somewhat larger indirect effects. Because of this dependence on the background aerosol, model diagnostics such as albedo-particle size correlations and column cloud susceptibility, for which satellite validation products are available, are not good predictors of the resulting indirect effect.

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