Empirical evidence of a positive climate forcing of aerosols at elevated albedo

J. Yoon, D. Y. Chang, J. Lelieveld, A. Pozzer, J. Kim, S. S. Yum

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12 Citations (Scopus)


We use Aerosol Robotic Network (AERONET) observation data to empirically determine how natural and anthropogenic aerosol categories (i.e. mineral dust, biomass burning, and urban-industrial aerosols) affect light extinction, showing that their radiative forcing varies strongly with the surface albedo. Generally, the radiative forcing depends on the aerosol loading, but the efficiency varies with the aerosol type and aerosol-radiation-surface interactions. Desert dust, biomass burning and urban-industrial aerosols can exhibit dramatic shifts in radiative forcing at the top of the atmosphere, from cooling to warming, at surface albedos from below 0.5 to above 0.75. Based on the linear relationship between the radiative forcing efficiency and surface albedo for aeolian aerosols, using Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) AOT (Aerosol Optical Thickness) and surface albedo data, we characterized a large Asian dust event during the spring of 2001, and demonstrate its immense spatially varying radiative forcing, ranging from about −84.0 to +69.3 W/m2. For extensive Russian wildfires during the summer of 2010, strong radiative cooling forcing variability of biomass combustion aerosols is found, ranging from about −86.3 to +3.1 W/m2. For a thick urban-industrial aerosol haze over northern India during the winter of 2017, a large range of about −85.0 to −0.3 W/m2 is found. These wide ranges underscore the need to accurately define aerosol-radiation-surface interactions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)269-279
Number of pages11
JournalAtmospheric Research
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Nov 15

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© 2019 The Authors

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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