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The Effect of Tropospheric Aerosols on the Earth's Radiation Budget: A Parameterization for Climate Models

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  • 1 National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder. CO 80307
  • | 2 Luikov Heat and Moss Transfer Institute, Byelorussian Academy of Sciences, Minsk 220728 U.S.S.R.
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Abstract

Guided by the results of doubling-adding solutions to the equation of radiative transfer, we develop a simple technique for incorporating in climate models the effect of the background tropospheric aerosol on solar radiation. Because the atmosphere is practically nonabsorbing for much of the solar spectrum the effects of the tropospheric aerosol on the reflectivity, transmissivity and absorptivity of the atmosphere are adequately accounted for by the properties of a two-layered system with the atmosphere placed above the aerosol layer. The two-stream and delta-Eddington approximations to the radiative transfer equation then provide reasonably accurate estimates of the changes brought about by the aerosol. Furthermore, results of the doubling-adding calculations lead to a simple parameterization for the distribution of absorption by the aerosol within the atmosphere. Using these simple techniques, we calculate the changes caused by models for the naturally occurring tropospheric aerosol in a zonal mean energy balance climate model. The 2–30°C surface cooling caused by the background aerosol is comparable in magnitude but opposite in sign to the temperature changes brought about by the current atmospheric concentrations of N20 and CH4 and by a doubling of CO2. The model results also indicate that even though the background aerosol may decrease the planetary albedo at high latitudes, it causes cooling at all latitudes. We also use the simple techniques to calculate the influence of dust on the planetary albedo of a desert. Here we demonstrate that the interaction of the aerosol scattering with the angular dependence of the surface reflectivity strongly influences the planetary albedo.

Abstract

Guided by the results of doubling-adding solutions to the equation of radiative transfer, we develop a simple technique for incorporating in climate models the effect of the background tropospheric aerosol on solar radiation. Because the atmosphere is practically nonabsorbing for much of the solar spectrum the effects of the tropospheric aerosol on the reflectivity, transmissivity and absorptivity of the atmosphere are adequately accounted for by the properties of a two-layered system with the atmosphere placed above the aerosol layer. The two-stream and delta-Eddington approximations to the radiative transfer equation then provide reasonably accurate estimates of the changes brought about by the aerosol. Furthermore, results of the doubling-adding calculations lead to a simple parameterization for the distribution of absorption by the aerosol within the atmosphere. Using these simple techniques, we calculate the changes caused by models for the naturally occurring tropospheric aerosol in a zonal mean energy balance climate model. The 2–30°C surface cooling caused by the background aerosol is comparable in magnitude but opposite in sign to the temperature changes brought about by the current atmospheric concentrations of N20 and CH4 and by a doubling of CO2. The model results also indicate that even though the background aerosol may decrease the planetary albedo at high latitudes, it causes cooling at all latitudes. We also use the simple techniques to calculate the influence of dust on the planetary albedo of a desert. Here we demonstrate that the interaction of the aerosol scattering with the angular dependence of the surface reflectivity strongly influences the planetary albedo.

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