Articles | Volume 13, issue 15
Research article
05 Aug 2013
Research article |  | 05 Aug 2013

Climate response due to carbonaceous aerosols and aerosol-induced SST effects in NCAR community atmospheric model CAM3.5

W.-C. Hsieh, W. D. Collins, Y. Liu, J. C. H. Chiang, C.-L. Shie, K. Caldeira, and L. Cao

Abstract. This study used the Community Atmospheric Model 3.5 (CAM3.5) to investigate the effects of carbonaceous aerosols on climate. The simulations include control runs with 3 times the mass of carbonaceous aerosols as compared to the model's default carbonaceous aerosol mass, as well as no-carbon runs in which carbonaceous aerosols were removed. The slab ocean model (SOM) and the fixed sea surface temperature (SST) were used to examine effects of ocean boundary conditions. Throughout this study, climate response induced by aerosol forcing was mainly analyzed in the following three terms: (1) aerosol radiative effects under fixed SST, (2) effects of aerosol-induced SST feedbacks, and (3) total effects including effects of aerosol forcing and SST feedbacks. The change of SST induced by aerosols has large impacts on distribution of climate response; the magnitudes in response patterns such as temperature, precipitation, zonal winds, mean meridional circulation, radiative fluxes, and cloud coverage are different between the SOM and fixed SST runs. Moreover, different spatial responses between the SOM and fixed SST runs can also be seen in some local areas. This implies the importance of SST feedbacks on simulated climate response. The aerosol dimming effects cause a cooling predicted at low layers near the surface in most carbonaceous aerosol source regions. The temperature response shows a warming (cooling) predicted in the north (south) high latitudes, suggesting that aerosol forcing can cause climate change in regions far away from its origins. Our simulation results show that direct and semidirect radiative forcing due to carbonaceous aerosols decreases rainfall in the tropics. This implies that carbonaceous aerosols have possibly strong influence on weakening of the tropical circulation. Most changes in precipitation are negatively correlated with changes of radiative fluxes at the top of model. The changes in radiative fluxes at top of model are physically consistent with the response patterns in cloud fields. On global average, low-level cloud coverage increases, and mid- and high-level cloud coverage decreases in response to changes in radiative energy induced by aerosol forcing. An approximated moisture budget equation was analyzed in order to understand physical mechanism of precipitation changes induced by carbonaceous aerosols. Our results show that changes in tropical precipitation are mainly dominated are mainly dominated by the dynamic effect (i.e., vertical moisture transport carried by the perturbed flow).

Final-revised paper