Surface temperature response to regional black carbon emissions: do location and magnitude matter?

Sand, Maria; Berntsen, Terje K.; Ekman, Annica M. L.; Hansson, Hans-Christen; Lewinschal, Anna

Aerosol radiative forcing can influence climate both locally and far outside the emission region. Here we investigate black carbon (BC) aerosols emitted in four major emission areas and evaluate the importance of emission location and magnitude as well as the concept of the absolute regional temperature-change potentials (ARTP). We perform simulations with a climate model (NorESM) with a fully coupled ocean and with fixed sea surface temperatures. BC emissions for year 2000 are increased by factors of 10 and 20 in South Asia, North America, and Europe, respectively, and by 5 and 10 in East Asia (due to higher emissions there). The perturbed simulations and a reference simulation are run for 100 years with three ensemble members each. We find strikingly similar regional surface temperature responses and geographical patterns per unit BC emission in Europe and North America but somewhat lower temperature sensitivities for East Asian emissions. BC emitted in South Asia shows a different geographical pattern in surface temperatures, by changing the Indian monsoon and cooling the surface. We find that the ARTP approach rather accurately reproduces the fully coupled temperature response of NorESM. Choosing the highest emission rate results in lower surface temperature change per emission unit compared to the lowest rate, but the difference is generally not statistically significant except for the Arctic. An advantage of high-perturbation simulations is the clearer emergence of regional signals. Our results show that the linearity of normalized temperature effects of BC is fairly well preserved despite the relatively large perturbations but that regional temperature coefficients calculated from high perturbations may be a conservative estimate. Regardless of emission region, BC causes a northward shift of the ITCZ, and this shift is apparent both with a fully coupled ocean and with fixed sea surface temperatures. For these regional BC emission perturbations, we find that the effective radiative forcing is not a good measure of the climate response. A limitation of this study is the uncertainties in BC–cloud interactions and the amount of BC absorption, both of which are model dependent.

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Sand, Maria / Berntsen, Terje K. / Ekman, Annica M. L. / et al: Surface temperature response to regional black carbon emissions: do location and magnitude matter?. 2020. Copernicus Publications.

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