Radiative Impacts of Elevated Aerosol Layers from Different Origins
Abstract:Aerosol particles are omnipresent in the Earth’s atmosphere and have important impacts on weather and climate by their effects on the atmospheric radiative balance. With the advent of more and more sophisticated representations of atmospheric processes in earth system models, the lack of reliable input data on aerosols leads to significant uncertainties in the prediction of future climate scenarios. In recent years large discrepancies in radiative forcing estimates from aerosol layers in modeling studies have been revealed emphasizing the need for detailed and systematic observations of aerosols. Airborne in-situ measurements represent an important pillar for validating both model results and retrievals of aerosol distributions and properties from remote sensing methods on global scales. However, detailed observations are challenging and therefore are subject to substantial uncertainties themselves.
Here we use data from airborne in-situ measurements of elevated aerosol layers from various field experiments in different regions of the world. The data set includes Saharan mineral dust layers over Africa, the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean from the SALTRACE and the SAMUM campaigns as well as long-range transported biomass burning aerosol layers from wild fires in the Sahel region and North America measured over the tropical Atlantic Ocean, Europe and the Arctic detected during SAMUM2, CONCERT2011, DC3 and ACCESS 2012. We aim to characterize the effects of the measured aerosol layers, in particular with respect to ageing, mixing state and vertical structure, on the overall atmospheric radiation budget as well as local heating and cooling rates. We use radiative transfer simulations of short and long-wave radiation and aerosol optical properties derived in a consistent way from the in-situ observations of microphysical properties using T-matrix calculations. The results of this characterization will help to improve the parameterization of the effects of elevated aerosol layers in earth system models. In addition, we assess uncertainties in radiative forcing estimates introduced by uncertainties in the measured aerosol properties.