Regional climate effects of aerosols over China: modeling and observation

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Qian, Yun ; Leung, L. Ruby ; Ghan, Steven J. ; Giorgi, Filippo (2011)

We present regional simulations of aerosol properties, direct radiative forcing and aerosol climatic effects over China, and compare the simulations with observed aerosol characteristics and climatic data over the region. The climate simulations are performed with a regional climate model, which is shown to capture the spatial distribution and seasonal pattern of temperature and precipitation. Aerosol concentrations are obtained from a global tracer-transport model and are provided to the regional model for the calculation of radiative forcing. Different aerosols are included: sulfate, organic carbon, black carbon, mineral dust, and sea salt and MSA particles. Generally, the aerosol optical depth is well simulated in both magnitude and spatial distribution. The direct radiative forcing of the aerosol is in the range –1 to –14 W m−2 in autumn and summer and −1 to –9 W m−2 in spring and winter, with substantial spatial variability at the regional scale. A strong maximum in aerosol optical depth and negative radiative forcing is found over the Sichuan Basin. The negative radiative forcing of aerosol induces a surface cooling in the range –0.6 to –1.2 °C in autumn and winter, –0.3 to –0.6 °C in spring and 0.0 to –0.9 °C in summer throughout East China. The aerosol-induced cooling is mainly due to a decrease in daytime maximum temperature. The cooling is maximum and is statistically significant over the Sichuan Basin. The effect of aerosol on precipitation is not evident in our simulations. The temporal and spatial patterns of the temperature trends observed in the second half of the twentieth century, including different trends for daily maximum and minimum temperature, are at least qualitatively consistent with the simulated aerosol-induced cooling over the Sichuan Basin and East China. This result supports the hypothesis that the observed temperature trends during the latter decades of the twentieth century, especially the cooling trends over the Sichuan Basin and some parts of East China, are at least partly related to the cooling induced by increasing atmospheric aerosol loadings over the region.DOI: 10.1046/j.1435-6935.2003.00070.x
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