16 May 2022
16 May 2022
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal ACP.

Mapping the dependence of BC radiative forcing on emission region and season

Petri Räisänen1, Joonas Merikanto1, Risto Makkonen1,2, Mikko Savolahti3, Alf Kirkevåg4, Maria Sand5, Øyvind Seland4, and Antti-Ilari Partanen1 Petri Räisänen et al.
  • 1Finnish Meteorological Institute, Climate Research, Helsinki, Finland
  • 2University of Helsinki, Institute for Atmospheric and Earth System Research, Helsinki, Finland
  • 3Finnish Environment Institute, Climate and Air Pollution, Helsinki, Finland
  • 4Norwegian Meteorological Institute, Oslo, Norway
  • 5CICERO Center for International Climate Research, Oslo, Norway

Abstract. For short-lived climate forcers such as black carbon (BC), the atmospheric concentrations, radiative forcing (RF) and, ultimately, the subsequent effects on climate, depend on the location and timing of the emissions. Here, we employ the NorESM1-Happi version of Norwegian Earth System Model to systematically study how the RF associated with BC emissions depends on the latitude, longitude and seasonality of the emissions. The model aerosol scheme is run in an offline mode, to allow for an essentially noise-free evaluation of the RF associated with even minor changes in emissions. Both the BC direct RF (dirRF) and the RF associated with BC in snow/ice (snowRF) are calculated for emissions in 192 latitude-longitude boxes covering the globe, both for seasonally uniform emissions and for emissions in each of the four seasons separately. We also calculate a rough estimate of the global temperature response to regional emissions, and provide a fortran-based tool to facilitate the further use of our results.

Overall, the results demonstrate that the BC RFs strongly depend on the latitude, longitude and season of the emissions. In particular, the global-mean dirRF normalized by emissions (direct specific forcing; dirSF) depends much more strongly on the emission location than suggested by previous studies that have considered emissions from continental/subcontinental-scale regions. Even for seasonally uniform emissions, dirSF varies by more than a factor of ten depending on emission location. These variations correlate strongly with BC lifetime, which varies from less than 2 days to 11 days. BC dirSF is largest for emissions in tropical convective regions and in subtropical and midlatitude continents in summer, both due to the abundant solar radiation and strong convective transport, which increases BC lifetime and the amount of BC above clouds. The dirSF is also relatively large for emissions in high-albedo high-latitude regions such as Antarctica and Greenland. The dependence of snow specific forcing (snowSF) on the emission location is even larger. While BC emissions originating from most low-latitude regions result in negligible snowSF, the maxima of snowSF for emissions in polar regions greatly exceed the largest values of dirSF for low-latitude emissions. The large magnitude of snowSF for high-latitude BC emissions suggests that, for a given mass of BC emitted, also the climate impacts are largest for high-latitude emissions.

The additivity of the RFs resulting from BC emissions in different regions and seasons is also investigated. It is found that dirRF is almost additive for current-day emissions: summing the RFs computed for individual regions/seasons without considering BC emissions from elsewhere overestimates dirRF by less than 10 %. For snowRF, the overestimate is somewhat larger, ~20 %.

Petri Räisänen et al.

Status: open (until 30 Jun 2022)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on acp-2022-288', Anonymous Referee #1, 12 Jun 2022 reply
  • RC2: 'Comment on acp-2022-288', William Collins, 17 Jun 2022 reply

Petri Räisänen et al.

Data sets

Data and code for the manuscript "Mapping the dependence of BC radiative forcing on emission region and season" by Petri Räisänen et al. (submitted to ACP) Petri Räisänen

Model code and software

BC radiative forcing and climate response tool, version 1.0.0 Petri Räisänen

Petri Räisänen et al.


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Short summary
A climate model is used to evaluate how the radiative forcing (RF) associated with black carbon (BC) emissions depends on the latitude, longitude and seasonality of emissions. It is found that both the direct RF (BC absorption of solar radiation in air) and snow RF (BC absorption in snow/ice) depend strongly on the emission region and season. The results suggest that for a given mass of BC emitted, climatic impacts are likely to be largest for high-latitude emissions due to their large snow RF.