Anthropogenic influence on SOA and the resulting radiative forcing
- 1Department of Geosciences, University of Oslo, Norway
- 2Center for International Climate and Environmental Research, Oslo, Norway
- 3Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science, ETH Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
Abstract. The effect of chemical changes in the atmosphere since the pre-industrial period on the distributions and burdens of Secondary Organic Aerosol (SOA) has been calculated using the off-line aerosol chemistry transport model Oslo CTM2. The production of SOA was found to have increased from about 35 Tg yr−1 to 53 Tg yr−1 since pre-industrial times, leading to an increase in the global annual mean SOA burden from 0.33 Tg to 0.50 Tg, or about 51%. The effect of allowing semi-volatile species to partition to sulphate aerosol was also tested, leading to an increase in SOA production from about 43 Tg yr−1 to 69 Tg yr−1 since pre-industrial times, while the annual mean SOA burden increased from 0.44 Tg to 0.70 Tg, or about 59%. The increases were greatest over industrialised areas, especially when partitioning to sulphate aerosol was allowed, as well as over regions with high biogenic precursor emissions. The contribution of emissions from different sources to the larger SOA burdens has been calculated. The results suggest that the majority of the increase was caused by emissions of primary organic aerosols (POA), from fossil fuel and bio fuel combustion. As yet, very few radiative forcing estimates of SOA exist, and no such estimates were provided in the latest IPCC report. In this study, we found that the change in SOA burden caused a radiative forcing (defined here as the difference between the pre-industrial and the present day run) of −0.09 W m−2, when SOA was allowed to partition to both organic and sulphate aerosols, and −0.06 W m−2 when only partitioning to organic aerosols was assumed. Therefore, the radiative forcing of SOA was found to be stronger than the best estimate for POA in the latest IPCC assessment.