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Improved Aerosol Model More Accurately Depicts Characteristics of Black Carbon

Diagrams from the paper.

AGU’s journal editors provide brief summaries of recent papers in their Editors’ Highlights.

The source is the Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems.

Black carbon (BC) is a major light absorption component and strong climate-warming agent among atmospheric aerosols. Aerosol absorption efficiency and their global warming effects were reported to be overestimated in current global climate models (GCMs) due to the poor representation of complex BC mixing states.

Chen et al. [2023] conducted a study to assess and enhance the representation of aerosols in Global Climate Models (GCMs), focusing on their microphysical and optical properties, specifically Black Carbon (BC) and aerosol optical properties. They utilized a variety of observational data on particle size distribution and mixing state to identify key BC properties that significantly impact their radiative effects. Based on these findings, an improved aerosol optical model was developed and incorporated into a GCM. The new model was then evaluated using field observations, taking into account the updated representation of BC and aerosol optical properties.

The findings indicate that the projected absorption of BC, using enhanced representations, aligns more closely with global BC observations thanks to more precise predictions of BC-related microphysical and mixing characteristics. As a result, the improved BC representation reduced BC’s impact on radiative forcing and climate by up to 24%.

Reference: Chen, G., Wang, J., Wang, Y., Wang, J., Jin, Y., Cheng, Y., et al. (2023). Enhancing Global Climate Models with an Aerosol Optical Module Incorporating Observation-Informed Black Carbon Characteristics. Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems, 15, e2022MS003501.

—Jiwen Fan, Editor, JAMES

Text © 2023. The authors. CC BY-NC-ND 3.0

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