Modeled black carbon radiative forcing and atmospheric lifetime in AeroCom Phase II constrained by aircraft observations

Andreas.Herber [ at ]


Atmospheric black carbon (BC) absorbs solar radiation, and exacerbates global warming through exerting positive radiative forcing (RF). However, the contribution of BC to ongoing changes in global climate is under debate. Anthropogenic BC emissions, and 5 the resulting distribution of BC concentration, are highly uncertain. In particular, long range transport and processes affecting BC atmospheric lifetime are poorly understood. Here we discuss whether recent assessments may have overestimated present day BC radiative forcing in remote regions. We compare vertical profiles of BC concentration from four recent aircraft measurement campaigns to simulations by 13 aerosol 10 models participating in the AeroCom Phase II intercomparision. An atmospheric lifetime of BC of less than 5 days is shown to be essential for reproducing observations in remote ocean regions, in line with other recent studies. Adjusting model results to measurements in remote regions, and at high altitudes, leads to a 25% reduction in AeroCom Phase II median direct BC forcing, from fossil fuel and biofuel burning, over 15 the industrial era. The sensitivity of modeled forcing to BC vertical profile and lifetime highlights an urgent need for further flight campaigns, close to sources and in remote regions, to provide improved quantification of BC effects for use in climate policy.

Item Type
Primary Division
Primary Topic
Peer revision
ISI/Scopus peer-reviewed
Publication Status
Eprint ID
DOI 10.5194/acpd-14-20083-2014

Cite as
Samset, B. , Myhre, G. , Herber, A. , Kondo, Y. , Li, S. M. , Moteki, N. , Koike, M. , Oshima, N. , Schwarz, J. , Balkanski, Y. , Bauers, S. , Bellouin, N. , Berntsen, T. , Bian, H. , Chin, M. , Diehl, T. , Easter, R. , Ghan, S. , Iversen, T. , Kirkevåg, A. , Lamarque, J. F. , Lin, G. , Liu, X. , Penners, J. , Schulz, M. , Seland, Ø. , Skeie, R. , Stier, P. , Tamemura, T. , Tsigaridis, K. and Zhang, K. (2014): Modeled black carbon radiative forcing and atmospheric lifetime in AeroCom Phase II constrained by aircraft observations , Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 14 (14), pp. 20083-20115 . doi: 10.5194/acpd-14-20083-2014

[thumbnail of Samsetetal_ACPD-14-20083-2014.pdf]

Download (530kB) | Preview
Cite this document as:



Geographical region

Research Platforms


Edit Item Edit Item