The importance of the representation of air pollution emissions for the modeled distribution and radiative effects of black carbon in the Arctic

Andreas.Herber [ at ]


Aerosol particles can contribute to the Arctic amplification (AA) by direct and indirect radiative effects. Specifically, black carbon (BC) in the atmosphere, and when deposited on snow and sea ice, has a positive warming ef- fect on the top-of-atmosphere (TOA) radiation balance dur- ing the polar day. Current climate models, however, are still struggling to reproduce Arctic aerosol conditions. We present an evaluation study with the global aerosol-climate model ECHAM6.3-HAM2.3 to examine emission-related uncer- tainties in the BC distribution and the direct radiative ef- fect of BC. The model results are comprehensively compared against the latest ground and airborne aerosol observations for the period 2005–2017, with a focus on BC. Four differ- ent setups of air pollution emissions are tested. The simula- tions in general match well with the observed amount and temporal variability in near-surface BC in the Arctic. Using actual daily instead of fixed biomass burning emissions is crucial for reproducing individual pollution events but has only a small influence on the seasonal cycle of BC. Com- pared with commonly used fixed anthropogenic emissions for the year 2000, an up-to-date inventory with transient air pollution emissions results in up to a 30 % higher annual BC burden locally. This causes a higher annual mean all-sky net direct radiative effect of BC of over 0.1 W m−2 at the top of the atmosphere over the Arctic region (60–90◦ N), being lo- cally more than 0.2 W m−2 over the eastern Arctic Ocean. We estimate BC in the Arctic as leading to an annual net gain of 0.5 W m−2 averaged over the Arctic region but to a local gain of up to 0.8 W m−2 by the direct radiative ef- fect of atmospheric BC plus the effect by the BC-in-snow albedo reduction. Long-range transport is identified as one of the main sources of uncertainties for ECHAM6.3-HAM2.3, leading to an overestimation of BC in atmospheric layers above 500 hPa, especially in summer. This is related to a mis- representation in wet removal in one identified case at least, which was observed during the ARCTAS (Arctic Research of the Composition of the Troposphere from Aircraft and Satel- lites) summer aircraft campaign. Overall, the current model version has significantly improved since previous intercom- parison studies and now performs better than the multi-model average in the Aerosol Comparisons between Observation and Models (AEROCOM) initiative in terms of the spatial and temporal distribution of Arctic BC.

Item Type
Primary Division
Primary Topic
Peer revision
ISI/Scopus peer-reviewed
Publication Status
Eprint ID
Cite as
Schacht, J. , Heinold, B. , Quaas, J. , Backmann, J. , Cherian, R. , Ehrlich, A. , Herber, A. , Huang, W. T. K. , Kondo, Y. , Massling, A. , Sinba, P. , Weinzierl, B. and Zanatta, M. (2019): The importance of the representation of air pollution emissions for the modeled distribution and radiative effects of black carbon in the Arctic , Atmos. Chem. Phys., 19 , pp. 11159-11183 .


Download (13MB) | Preview


Research Platforms


Edit Item Edit Item