Articles | Volume 13, issue 19
Research article
09 Oct 2013
Research article |  | 09 Oct 2013

The global impact of the transport sectors on atmospheric aerosol: simulations for year 2000 emissions

M. Righi, J. Hendricks, and R. Sausen

Abstract. We use the EMAC (ECHAM/MESSy Atmospheric Chemistry) global model with the aerosol module MADE (Modal Aerosol Dynamics model for Europe, adapted for global applications) to quantify the impact of transport emissions (land transport, shipping and aviation) on the global aerosol. We consider a present-day (2000) scenario according to the CMIP5 (Climate Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5) emission data set developed in support of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) Fifth Assessment Report. The model takes into account particle mass and number emissions: The latter are derived from mass emissions under different assumptions on the size distribution of particles emitted by the three transport sectors. Additional sensitivity experiments are performed to quantify the effects of the uncertainties behind such assumptions. The model simulations show that the impact of the transport sectors closely matches the emission patterns. Land transport is the most important source of black carbon (BC) pollution in the USA, Europe and the Arabian Peninsula, contributing up to 60–70% of the total surface-level BC concentration in these regions. Shipping contributes about 40–60% of the total aerosol sulfate surface-level concentration along the most-traveled routes of the northern Atlantic and northern Pacific oceans, with a significant impact (~ 10–20%) along the coastlines. Aviation mostly affects aerosol number, contributing about 30–40% of the particle number concentration in the northern midlatitudes' upper troposphere (7–12 km), although significant effects are also simulated at the ground, due to the emissions from landing and take-off cycles. The transport-induced perturbations to the particle number concentrations are very sensitive to the assumptions on the size distribution of emitted particles, with the largest uncertainties (about one order of magnitude) obtained for the land transport sector. The simulated climate impacts, due to aerosol direct and indirect effects, are strongest for the shipping sector, in the range of −222.0 to −153.3 mW m−2, as a consequence of the large impact of sulfate aerosol on low marine clouds and their optical properties.

Final-revised paper