• Open Access

Natural aerosol direct and indirect radiative effects


Corresponding author: A. Rap, School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK. (a.rap@leeds.ac.uk)


[1] Natural aerosol plays a significant role in the Earth's system due to its ability to alter the radiative balance of the Earth. Here we use a global aerosol microphysics model together with a radiative transfer model to estimate radiative effects for five natural aerosol sources in the present-day atmosphere: dimethyl sulfide (DMS), sea-salt, volcanoes, monoterpenes, and wildfires. We calculate large annual global mean aerosol direct and cloud albedo effects especially for DMS-derived sulfate (–0.23 Wm–2 and –0.76 Wm–2, respectively), volcanic sulfate (–0.21 Wm–2 and –0.61 Wm–2) and sea-salt (–0.44 Wm–2 and –0.04 Wm–2). The cloud albedo effect responds nonlinearly to changes in emission source strengths. The natural sources have both markedly different radiative efficiencies and indirect/direct radiative effect ratios. Aerosol sources that contribute a large number of small particles (DMS-derived and volcanic sulfate) are highly effective at influencing cloud albedo per unit of aerosol mass burden.