Get access
Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres

Radiative forcing and climate response due to the presence of black carbon in cloud droplets



[1] Optical properties of clouds containing black carbon (BC) particles in their water droplets are calculated by using the Maxwell Garnett mixing rule and Mie theory. The obtained cloud optical properties were then applied to an interactive system by coupling an aerosol model with a General Circulation Model. This system is used to investigate the radiative forcing and the equilibrium climate response due to BC in cloud droplets. The simulated global annual mean radiative forcing at the top of the atmosphere due to the BC in cloud droplets is found to be 0.086 W m−2. Positive radiative forcing can be seen in Africa, South America, East and South Asia, and West Europe, with a maximum value of 1.5 W m−2 being observed in these regions. The enhanced cloud absorption is shown to increase the global annual mean values of solar heating rate, water vapor, and temperature, but to decrease the global annual mean cloud fraction. Finally, the global annual mean surface temperature is shown to increase by +0.08 K. The local maximum changes are found to be as low as −1.5 K and as high as +0.6 K. We show there has been a significant difference in surface temperature change in the Southern and Northern Hemisphere (+0.19 K and −0.04 K, respectively). Our results show that this interhemispheric asymmetry in surface temperature change could cause a corresponding change in atmospheric dynamics and precipitation. It is also found that the northern trade winds are enhanced in the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ). This results in northerly surface wind anomalies which cross the equator to converge with the enhanced southern trade winds in the tropics of Southern Hemisphere. This is shown to lead to an increase (a decrease) of vertical ascending motion and precipitation on the south (north) side of the equator, which could induce a southward shift in the tropical rainfall maximum related to the ITCZ.

Get access to the full text of this article