Research Article

Hemispheric Aerosol Vertical Profiles: Anthropogenic Impacts on Optical Depth and Cloud Nuclei

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Science  17 Sep 2010:
Vol. 329, Issue 5998, pp. 1488-1492
DOI: 10.1126/science.1188838

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Understanding the effect of anthropogenic combustion upon aerosol optical depth (AOD), clouds, and their radiative forcing requires regionally representative aerosol profiles. In this work, we examine more than 1000 vertical profiles from 11 major airborne campaigns in the Pacific hemisphere and confirm that regional enhancements in aerosol light scattering, mass, and number are associated with carbon monoxide from combustion and can exceed values in unperturbed regions by more than one order of magnitude. Related regional increases in a proxy for cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) and AOD imply that direct and indirect aerosol radiative effects are coupled issues linked globally to aged combustion. These profiles constrain the influence of combustion on regional AOD and CCN suitable for challenging climate model performance and informing satellite retrievals.

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