Future evolution of aerosols and implications for climate change in the Euro-Mediterranean region using the CNRM-ALADIN63 regional climate model

Drugé, Thomas; Nabat, Pierre; Mallet, Marc; Somot, Samuel

This study investigates, through regional climate modelling, the surface mass concentration and AOD (aerosol optical depth) evolution of the various (anthropogenic and natural) aerosols over the Euro-Mediterranean region between the end of the 20th century and the mid-21st century. The direct aerosol radiative forcing (DRF) as well as the future Euro-Mediterranean climate sensitivity to aerosols have also been analysed. Different regional climate simulations were carried out with the CNRM-ALADIN63 regional climate model, driven by the global CNRM-ESM2-1 Earth system model (used in CMIP6) and coupled to the TACTIC (Tropospheric Aerosols for ClimaTe In CNRM) interactive aerosol scheme. These simulations follow several future scenarios called shared socioeconomic pathways (SSP 1-1.9, SSP 3-7.0 and SSP 5-8.5), which have been chosen to analyse a wide range of possible future scenarios in terms of aerosol or particle precursor emissions. Between the historical and the future period, results show a total AOD decrease between 30 % and 40 % over Europe for the three scenarios, mainly due to the sulfate AOD decrease (between inline-formula−85 and inline-formula−93 %), that is partly offset by the nitrate and ammonium particles AOD increase (between inline-formula+90 and inline-formula+120 %). According to these three scenarios, nitrate aerosols become the largest contributor to the total AOD during the future period over Europe, with a contribution between 43.5 % and 47.5 %. It is important to note that one of the precursors of nitrate and ammonium aerosols, nitric acid, has been implemented in the model as a constant climatology over time. Concerning natural aerosols, their contribution to the total AOD increases slightly between the two periods. The different evolution of aerosols therefore impacts their DRF, with a significant sulfate DRF decrease between 2.4 and 2.8 W minline-formula−2 and a moderate nitrate and ammonium DRF increase between 1.3 and 1.5 W minline-formula−2, depending on the three scenarios over Europe. These changes, which are similar under the different scenarios, explain about 65 % of the annual shortwave radiation change but also about 6 % (in annual average) of the warming expected over Europe by the middle of the century. This study shows, with SSP 5-8.5, that the extra warming attributable to the anthropogenic aerosol evolution over Central Europe and the Iberian Peninsula during the summer period is due to “aerosol–radiation” as well as “aerosol–cloud” interaction processes. The extra warming of about 0.2 inline-formulaC over Central Europe is explained by a surface radiation increase of 5.8 W minline-formula−2 over this region, due to both a surface aerosol DRF decrease of 4.4 W minline-formula−2 associated with a positive effective radiative forcing due to aerosol–radiation interactions (ERFari) of 2.7 W minline-formula−2 at the top of the atmosphere (TOA) and a cloud optical depth (COD) decrease of 1.3. In parallel, the simulated extra warming of 0.2inline-formulaC observed over the Iberian Peninsula is due to a COD decrease of 1.3, leading to a positive effective radiative forcing due to aerosol–cloud interactions (ERFaci) of 2.6 W minline-formula−2 at the TOA but also to an atmospheric dynamics change leading to a cloud cover decrease of about 1.7 % and drier air in the lower layers, which is a signature of the semi-direct forcing. This study thus highlights the necessity of taking into account the evolution of aerosols in future regional climate simulations.



Drugé, Thomas / Nabat, Pierre / Mallet, Marc / et al: Future evolution of aerosols and implications for climate change in the Euro-Mediterranean region using the CNRM-ALADIN63 regional climate model. 2021. Copernicus Publications.


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