Arctic climate sensitivity to local black carbon
Article first published online: 26 FEB 2013
©2013. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.
Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
Volume 118, Issue 4, pages 1840–1851, 27 February 2013
How to Cite
2013), Arctic climate sensitivity to local black carbon, J. Geophys. Res. Atmos., 118, 1840–1851, doi:10.1002/jgrd.50176.(
- Issue published online: 17 APR 2013
- Article first published online: 26 FEB 2013
- Accepted manuscript online: 18 JAN 2013 09:07AM EST
- Manuscript Accepted: 6 JAN 2013
- Manuscript Revised: 4 JAN 2013
- Manuscript Received: 18 JUN 2012
- black carbon;
- regional climate sensitivity;
 Recent attention has focused on the impact of black carbon (BC) on Arctic climate. Here, idealized equilibrium climate experiments are conducted to explore the dependence of Arctic temperature change on the altitude and season of local BC forcing. BC residing in the lowest atmospheric layer produces very strong Arctic warming per unit mass and forcing [ 2.8 ± 0.5 K (Wm − 2) − 1] because of low cloud and sea-ice feedbacks that amplify both summer and winter warming. BC operating only within Arctic snow and sea-ice also effectively warms the surface, but forcings at 400–750mbar and 210–250mbar cause weak surface warming and cooling, respectively, despite increasing atmospheric moist static energy. This is a consequence of stable atmospheric conditions in the Arctic limiting vertical mixing, and of higher-altitude BC reducing surface insolation, increasing stability and summer low-cloud cover, and decreasing poleward energy transport. The current simulated distribution of Arctic atmospheric BC slightly cools the surface, supporting an earlier study, while local atmospheric and cryosphere-deposited BC warms the Arctic with a sensitivity of + 0.5 ± 0.4 K (Wm − 2) − 1. By season, April–May tropospheric BC induces the greatest mass-normalized Arctic warming [0.18 K (Gg yr) − 1] because high insolation and surface albedo facilitate large specific forcing during this season. Forcing efficacy, however, increases with summer progression because of decreasing atmospheric stability, leading to a narrow range of mass-normalized response with season. Although limited by exclusion of aerosol indirect effects, changes in ocean heat transport and forcing by co-emitted species, these experiments show that Arctic climate response is sensitive to the vertical distribution and deposition efficiency of BC reaching the Arctic.