Articles | Volume 10, issue 8
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 10, 3693–3709, 2010
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 10, 3693–3709, 2010

  21 Apr 2010

21 Apr 2010

Sulfur cycle and sulfate radiative forcing simulated from a coupled global climate-chemistry model

I.-C. Tsai1, J.-P. Chen1, P.-Y. Lin1, W.-C. Wang2, and I. S. A. Isaksen3 I.-C. Tsai et al.
  • 1Department of Atmospheric Sciences, National Taiwan University, Taiwan
  • 2Atmospheric Sciences Research Center, State University of New York at Albany, USA
  • 3Department of Geosciences, University of Oslo, Norway

Abstract. The sulfur cycle and radiative effects of sulfate aerosol on climate are studied with a Global tropospheric Climate-Chemistry Model in which chemistry, radiation and dynamics are fully coupled. Production and removal mechanisms of sulfate are analyzed for the conditions of natural and anthropogenic sulfur emissions. Results show that the 1985 anthropogenic emission tripled the global SO2 and sulfate loadings from its natural value of 0.16 and 0.10 Tg S, respectively. Under natural conditions, the fraction of sulfate produced in-cloud is 74%; whereas with anthropogenic emissions, the fraction of in-cloud sulfate production slightly increased to 76%. Lifetimes of SO2 and sulfate under polluted conditions are estimated to be 1.7 and 2.0 days, respectively. The tripling of sulfate results in a direct radiative forcing of −0.43 W m−2 (clear-sky) or −0.24 W m−2 (all-sky), and a significant first indirect forcing of −1.85 W m−2, leading to a mean global cooling of about 0.1 K. Regional forcing and responses are significantly stronger than the global values. The first indirect forcing is sensitive to the relationship between aerosol concentration and cloud droplet number concentration which requires further investigation. Two aspects of chemistry-climate interaction are addressed. Firstly, the coupling effects lead to a slight decrease of 1% in global sulfate loading for both the cases of natural and anthropogenic added sulfur emissions. Secondly, only the indirect effect of sulfate aerosols yields significantly stronger signals in changes of near surface temperature and sulfate loading than changes due to intrinsic climate variability, while other responses to the indirect effect and all responses to the direct effect are below noise level.

Final-revised paper