Articles | Volume 12, issue 21
Research article
06 Nov 2012
Research article |  | 06 Nov 2012

Aerosol radiative forcing during African desert dust events (2005–2010) over Southeastern Spain

A. Valenzuela, F. J. Olmo, H. Lyamani, M. Antón, A. Quirantes, and L. Alados-Arboledas

Abstract. The daily (24 h) averages of the aerosol radiative forcing (ARF) at the surface and the top of the atmosphere (TOA) were calculated during desert dust events over Granada (southeastern Spain) from 2005 to 2010. A radiative transfer model (SBDART) was utilized to simulate the solar irradiance values (0.31–2.8 μm) at the surface and TOA, using as input aerosol properties retrieved from CIMEL sun photometer measurements via an inversion methodology that uses the sky radiance measurements in principal plane configuration and a spheroid particle shape approximation. This inversion methodology was checked by means of simulated data from aerosol models, and the derived aerosol properties were satisfactorily compared against well-known AERONET products. Good agreement was found over a common spectral interval (0.2–4.0 μm) between the simulated SBDART global irradiances at surface and those provided by AERONET. In addition, simulated SBDART solar global irradiances at the surface have been successfully validated against CM-11 pyranometer measurements. The comparison indicates that the radiative transfer model slightly overestimates (mean bias of 3%) the experimental solar global irradiance. These results show that the aerosol optical properties used to estimate ARF represent appropriately the aerosol properties observed during desert dust outbreak over the study area. The ARF mean monthly values computed during desert dust events ranged from −13 ± 8 W m−2 to −34 ± 15 W m−2 at surface, from −4 ± 3 W m−2 to −13 ± 7 W m−2 at TOA and from +6 ± 4 to +21 ± 12 W m−2 in the atmosphere. We have checked if the differences found in aerosol optical properties among desert dust sectors translate to differences in ARF. The mean ARF at surface (TOA) were −20 ± 12 (−5 ± 5) W m−2, −21 ± 9 (−7 ± 5) W m−2 and −18 ± 9 (−6 ± 5) W m−2 for sector A (northern Morocco; northwestern Algeria), sector B (western Sahara, northwestern Mauritania and southwestern Algeria), and sector C (eastern Algeria, Tunisia), respectively. The Kolmogorov-Smirnov statistical test revealed that daily {ARF} values at TOA for sector A were significantly different from the other two sectors, likely as a result of the lower values of single scattering albedo obtained for sector A. The mean values of aerosol radiative forcing efficiency at surface (TOA) were −74 ± 12 W m−2 (−17 ± 7 W m−2) for sector A, −70 ± 14 W m−2 (−20 ± 9 W m−2) for sector B, and −65 ± 16 W m−2 (−22 ± 10 W m−2) for sector C, and thus comparable between the three sectors in all seasons.

Final-revised paper