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Krzysztof M. Markowicz and Marcin L. Witek

Abstract

The aim of this study is to investigate the sensitivity of radiative-forcing computations to various contrail crystal shape models. Contrail optical properties in the shortwave and longwave ranges are derived using a ray-tracing geometric method and the discrete dipole approximation method, respectively. Both methods present good correspondence of the single-scattering albedo and the asymmetry parameter in a transition range (3–8 μm). There are substantial differences in single-scattering properties among 10 crystal models investigated here (e.g., hexagonal columns and plates with different aspect ratios, and spherical particles). The single-scattering albedo and the asymmetry parameter both vary by up to 0.1 among various crystal shapes. The computed single-scattering properties are incorporated in the moderate-resolution atmospheric radiance and transmittance model (MODTRAN) radiative transfer code to simulate solar and infrared fluxes at the top of the atmosphere. Particle shapes have a strong impact on the contrail radiative forcing in both the shortwave and longwave ranges. The differences in the net radiative forcing among optical models reach 50% with respect to the mean model value. The hexagonal-column and hexagonal-plate particles show the smallest net radiative forcing, and the largest forcing is obtained for the spheres. The balance between the shortwave forcing and longwave forcing is highly sensitive with respect to the assumed crystal shape and may even change the sign of the net forcing. The optical depth at which the mean diurnal radiative forcing changes sign from positive to negative varies from 4.5 to 10 for a surface albedo of 0.2 and from 2 to 6.5 for a surface albedo of 0.05. Contrails are probably never that optically thick (except for some aged contrail cirrus), however, and so will not have a cooling effect on climate.

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K. M. Markowicz, P. J. Flatau, J. Remiszewska, M. Witek, E. A. Reid, J. S. Reid, A. Bucholtz, and B. Holben

Abstract

Aerosol radiative forcing in the Persian Gulf region is derived from data collected during the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Unified Aerosol Experiment (UAE2). This campaign took place in August and September of 2004. The land–sea-breeze circulation modulates the diurnal variability of the aerosol properties and aerosol radiative forcing at the surface. Larger aerosol radiative forcing is observed during the land breeze in comparison to the sea breeze. The aerosol optical properties change as the onshore wind brings slightly cleaner air. The mean diurnal value of the surface aerosol forcing during the UAE2 campaign is about −20 W m−2, which corresponds to large aerosol optical thickness (0.45 at 500 nm). The aerosol forcing efficiency [i.e., broadband shortwave forcing per unit optical depth at 550 nm, W m−2 (τ 500)−1] is −53 W m−2 (τ 500)−1 and the average single scattering albedo is 0.93 at 550 nm.

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