CICERO - Center for International Climate Research

Response of surface shortwave cloud radiative effect to greenhouse gases and aerosols and its impact on summer maximum temperature

Tao Tang, Drew Shindell, Yuqiang Zhang, Apostolos Voulgarakis, Jean-Francois Lamarque, Gunnar Myhre, Camilla Weum Stjern, Greg Faluvegi, Bjørn Hallvard Samset

hortwave cloud radiative effects (SWCREs), defined as the difference of the shortwave radiative flux between all-sky and clear-sky conditions at the surface, have been reported to play an important role in influencing the Earth's energy budget and temperature extremes. In this study, we employed a set of global climate models to examine the SWCRE responses to CO2, black carbon (BC) aerosols, and sulfate aerosols in boreal summer over the Northern Hemisphere. We found that CO2 causes positive SWCRE changes over most of the NH, and BC causes similar positive responses over North America, Europe, and eastern China but negative SWCRE over India and tropical Africa. When normalized by effective radiative forcing, the SWCRE from BC is roughly 3–5 times larger than that from CO2. SWCRE change is mainly due to cloud cover changes resulting from changes in relative humidity (RH) and, to a lesser extent, changes in cloud liquid water, circulation, dynamics, and stability. The SWCRE response to sulfate aerosols, however, is negligible compared to that for CO2 and BC because part of the radiation scattered by clouds under all-sky conditions will also be scattered by aerosols under clear-sky conditions. Using a multilinear regression model, it is found that mean daily maximum temperature (Tmax) increases by 0.15 and 0.13 K per watt per square meter (W m−2) increase in local SWCRE under the CO2 and BC experiment, respectively. When domain-averaged, the contribution of SWCRE change to summer mean Tmax changes was 10 %–30 % under CO2 forcing and 30 %–50 % under BC forcing, varying by region, which can have important implications for extreme climatic events and socioeconomic activities.

More details