AbstractWe use radiative kernels to quantify the instantaneous radiative forcing of aerosols and the aerosol-mediated cloud response in coupled ocean-atmosphere model simulations under both historical and future emission scenarios. The method is evaluated using matching pairs of historical climate change experiments with and without aerosol forcing and accurately captures the spatial pattern and global mean effects of aerosol forcing. We show that aerosol-driven changes in the atmospheric circulation induce additional cloud changes. Thus, the total aerosol-mediated cloud response consists of both local microphysical changes and non-local dynamical changes that are driven by hemispheric asymmetries in aerosol forcing. By comparing coupled and fixed-SST (sea surface temperature) simulations with identical aerosol forcing we isolate the relative contributions of these two components, exploiting the ability of prescribed SSTs to also suppress changes in the atmospheric circulation. The radiative impact of the dynamical cloud changes are found to be comparable in magnitude to that of the microphysical cloud changes, and act to further amplify the inter-hemispheric asymmetry of the aerosol radiative forcing. The dynamical cloud response is closely linked to the meridional displacement of the Hadley Cell that, in turn, is driven by changes in the cross-equatorial energy transport. In this way, the dynamical cloud changes act as a positive feedback on the meridional displacement of the Hadley Cell, roughly doubling the projected changes in cross-equatorial energy transport compared to that from the microphysical changes alone.
Journal of Climate – American Meteorological Society
Published: Aug 1, 2017
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