A New Top-Down Decadal Constraint on Black Carbon Emissions over Asia - Capturing The Influence of Widespread and Regularly Occurring Fires and Urbanization: Greater Atmospheric Loading and Variability, Larger Impacts on Radiative Forcing at the Surface and in the Atmosphere, and Possible Feedback Mechanisms

Friday, 19 December 2014
Jason Blake Cohen, National University of Singapore, Singapore, Singapore
A global top-down study of Black Carbon (BC) Emissions has found that sources are considerably higher than present day emissions datasets, with most of this underestimation stemming from the rapidly developing areas of East and Southeast Asia. An additional source in these regions is the frequent and sometimes annual influence of extreme biomass burning events, which emit additional BC and other aerosols into the atmosphere. An additional top-down study has shown that the emissions of BC from these biomass burning events in Southeast Asia contribute an additional 30% increase in the annual average BC emissions, and an additional 110% increase during the highest fire year. One important reason for this underestimation is that many of these source regions do not appear as fires, due to missing MODIS overpasses, intense cloud cover, and low fire temperatures at the wet surface.

These new temporally and spatially varying emissions of BC are run in a state-of-the art combined model of aerosol physics, chemistry, and general circulation, including urban scale chemical processing and core/shell aerosol mixture impacts on radiation. The results reveal that this new dataset matches in space, time, and magnitude, an array of observations (remotely sensed, ground, and column) far better than other emission datasets: IPCC SRES, AEROCOM, BOND, and GFED.

The modeled mean atmospheric extinction and loading are both much higher and more variable than previous modelling efforts, leading to a larger negative surface radiative forcing. At the same time, atmospheric absorption is enhanced and more variable, leading to intense atmospheric heating, with the average impact from 1.0-1.5 W/m2. This has impacts on the vertical stability in the source areas, and leads to changes in the dynamics such as a shifting of the ITCZ, reducing light precipitation and increasing strong convection. To support this, a bit of measurement-based evidence presented for each of these phenomena.