Analysis of the global atmospheric background sulfur budget in a multi-model framework

Brodowsky, Christina V.; Sukhodolov, Timofei; Chiodo, Gabriel; Aquila, Valentina; Bekki, Slimane; Dhomse, Sandip S.; Höpfner, Michael; Laakso, Anton; Mann, Graham W.; Niemeier, Ulrike; Pitari, Giovanni; Quaglia, Ilaria; Rozanov, Eugene; Schmidt, Anja; Sekiya, Takashi; Tilmes, Simone; Timmreck, Claudia; Vattioni, Sandro; Visioni, Daniele; Yu, Pengfei; Zhu, Yunqian; Peter, Thomas

A growing number of general circulation models are adapting interactive sulfur and aerosol schemes to improve the representation of relevant physical and chemical processes and associated feedbacks. They are motivated by investigations of climate response to major volcanic eruptions and potential solar geoengineering scenarios. However, uncertainties in these schemes are not well constrained. Stratospheric sulfate is modulated by emissions of sulfur-containing species of anthropogenic and natural origin, including volcanic activity. While the effects of volcanic eruptions have been studied in the framework of global model intercomparisons, the background conditions of the sulfur cycle have not been addressed in such a way. Here, we fill this gap by analyzingpage5514 the distribution of the main sulfur species in nine global atmospheric aerosol models for a volcanically quiescent period. We use observational data to evaluate model results. Overall, models agree that the three dominant sulfur species in terms of burdens (sulfate aerosol, OCS, and SOinline-formula2) make up about 98 inline-formula% stratospheric sulfur and 95 inline-formula% tropospheric sulfur. However, models vary considerably in the partitioning between these species. Models agree that anthropogenic emission of SOinline-formula2 strongly affects the sulfate aerosol burden in the northern hemispheric troposphere, while its importance is very uncertain in other regions, where emissions are much lower. Sulfate aerosol is the main deposited species in all models, but the values deviate by a factor of 2. Additionally, the partitioning between wet and dry deposition fluxes is highly model dependent. Inter-model variability in the sulfur species is low in the tropics and increases towards the poles. Differences are largest in the dynamically active northern hemispheric extratropical region and could be attributed to the representation of the stratospheric circulation. The differences in the atmospheric sulfur budget among the models arise from the representation of both chemical and dynamical processes, whose interplay complicates the bias attribution. Several problematic points identified for individual models are related to the specifics of the chemistry schemes, model resolution, and representation of cross-tropopause transport in the extratropics. Further model intercomparison research is needed with a focus on the clarification of the reasons for biases, given the importance of this topic for the stratospheric aerosol injection studies.



Brodowsky, Christina V. / Sukhodolov, Timofei / Chiodo, Gabriel / et al: Analysis of the global atmospheric background sulfur budget in a multi-model framework. 2024. Copernicus Publications.


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