Report

Consistency Between Satellite-Derived and Modeled Estimates of the Direct Aerosol Effect

Science  10 Jul 2009:
Vol. 325, Issue 5937, pp. 187-190
DOI: 10.1126/science.1174461

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Abstract

In the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment Report, the direct aerosol effect is reported to have a radiative forcing estimate of –0.5 Watt per square meter (W m−2), offsetting the warming from CO2 by almost one-third. The uncertainty, however, ranges from –0.9 to –0.1 W m−2, which is largely due to differences between estimates from global aerosol models and observation-based estimates, with the latter tending to have stronger (more negative) radiative forcing. This study demonstrates consistency between a global aerosol model and adjustment to an observation-based method, producing a global and annual mean radiative forcing that is weaker than –0.5 W m−2, with a best estimate of –0.3 W m−2. The physical explanation for the earlier discrepancy is that the relative increase in anthropogenic black carbon (absorbing aerosols) is much larger than the overall increase in the anthropogenic abundance of aerosols.

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