Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
  • Open Access

Impact of preindustrial to present-day changes in short-lived pollutant emissions on atmospheric composition and climate forcing



[1] We describe and evaluate atmospheric chemistry in the newly developed Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory chemistry-climate model (GFDL AM3) and apply it to investigate the net impact of preindustrial (PI) to present (PD) changes in short-lived pollutant emissions (ozone precursors, sulfur dioxide, and carbonaceous aerosols) and methane concentration on atmospheric composition and climate forcing. The inclusion of online troposphere-stratosphere interactions, gas-aerosol chemistry, and aerosol-cloud interactions (including direct and indirect aerosol radiative effects) in AM3 enables a more complete representation of interactions among short-lived species, and thus their net climate impact, than was considered in previous climate assessments. The base AM3 simulation, driven with observed sea surface temperature (SST) and sea ice cover (SIC) over the period 1981–2007, generally reproduces the observed mean magnitude, spatial distribution, and seasonal cycle of tropospheric ozone and carbon monoxide. The global mean aerosol optical depth in our base simulation is within 5% of satellite measurements over the 1982–2006 time period. We conduct a pair of simulations in which only the short-lived pollutant emissions and methane concentrations are changed from PI (1860) to PD (2000) levels (i.e., SST, SIC, greenhouse gases, and ozone-depleting substances are held at PD levels). From the PI to PD, we find that changes in short-lived pollutant emissions and methane have caused the tropospheric ozone burden to increase by 39% and the global burdens of sulfate, black carbon, and organic carbon to increase by factors of 3, 2.4, and 1.4, respectively. Tropospheric hydroxyl concentration decreases by 7%, showing that increases in OH sinks (methane, carbon monoxide, nonmethane volatile organic compounds, and sulfur dioxide) dominate over sources (ozone and nitrogen oxides) in the model. Combined changes in tropospheric ozone and aerosols cause a net negative top-of-the-atmosphere radiative forcing perturbation (−1.05 W m−2) indicating that the negative forcing (direct plus indirect) from aerosol changes dominates over the positive forcing due to ozone increases, thus masking nearly half of the PI to PD positive forcing from long-lived greenhouse gases globally, consistent with other current generation chemistry-climate models.