Strong diurnal variability of aerosol has been observed frequently for many urban/industrial regions. How this variability may alter the direct aerosol radiative forcing (DARF), however, is largely unknown. To quantify changes in the time-averaged DARF, we perform an assessment of 29 days of high temporal resolution ground-based data collected during the Two-Column Aerosol Project on Cape Cod, which is downwind of metropolitan areas. We demonstrate that strong diurnal changes of aerosol loading (about 20% on average) have a negligible impact on the 24-h average DARF when daily averaged optical properties are used to find this quantity. However, when there is a sparse temporal sampling of aerosol properties, which may preclude the calculation of daily averaged optical properties, large errors (up to 100%) in the computed DARF may occur. We describe a simple way of reducing these errors, which suggests the minimal temporal sampling needed to accurately find the forcing.