Aerosol radiative forcings induced by substantial changes in anthropogenic emissions in China from 2008 to 2016

Liu, Mingxu; Matsui, Hitoshi

Anthropogenic emissions in China play an important role in altering the global radiation budget. Over the past decade, the strong clean-air policies in China have resulted in substantial reductions of anthropogenic emissions of sulfur dioxide (SOinline-formula2) and primary particulate matter, and air quality in China has consequently improved. However, the resultant aerosol radiative forcings have been poorly understood. In this study, we used an advanced global climate model integrated with the latest localized emission inventory to quantify the aerosol radiative forcings by the changes of anthropogenic emissions in China between 2008 and 2016. By comparing with multiple observation datasets, our simulations reproduced the considerable reductions of sulfate and black carbon (BC) mass loadings reasonably well over eastern China (the key region subject to stringent emission controls) during the period and accordingly showed a clear decline in both aerosol optical depth and absorption aerosol optical depth. The results revealed a regional annual mean positive direct radiative forcing (DRF) of inline-formula+0.29 W minline-formula−2 at the top of the atmosphere (TOA) due to the reduction of SOinline-formula2 emissions. This positive aerosol radiative forcing was comprised of diminished sulfate scattering (inline-formula+0.58 W minline-formula−2), enhanced nitrate radiative effects (inline-formula−0.29 W minline-formula−2), and could be completely offset by the concurrent reduction of BC emissions that induced a negative BC DRF of inline-formula−0.33 W minline-formula−2. Despite the small net aerosol DRF (inline-formula−0.05 W minline-formula−2) at the TOA, aerosol–radiation interactions could explain the surface brightening in China over the past decade. The overall reductions in aerosol burdens and associated optical effects mainly from BC and sulfate enhanced the regional annual mean downward solar radiation flux at the surface by inline-formula+1.0 W minline-formula−2 between 2008 and 2016. The enhancement was in general agreement with a long-term observational record of surface energy fluxes in China. We also estimated that aerosol effects on cloud radiative forcings may have played a dominant role in the net aerosol radiative forcings at the TOA in China and over the northern Pacific Ocean during the study period. This study will facilitate more informed assessment of climate responses to projected emissions in the future as well as to sudden changes in human activities (e.g., the COVID-19 lockdown).

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Liu, Mingxu / Matsui, Hitoshi: Aerosol radiative forcings induced by substantial changes in anthropogenic emissions in China from 2008 to 2016. 2021. Copernicus Publications.

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