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Keywords:

  • black carbon;
  • radiative forcing;
  • climate

[1] The equilibrium climate effect of direct radiative forcing of anthropogenic black carbon (BC) is examined by 100-year simulations in the Goddard Institute for Space Studies General Circulation Model II-prime coupled to a mixed-layer ocean model. Anthropogenic BC is predicted to raise globally and annually averaged equilibrium surface air temperature by 0.20 K if BC is assumed to be externally mixed. The predicted increase is significantly greater in the Northern Hemisphere (0.29 K) than in the Southern Hemisphere (0.11 K). If BC is assumed to be internally mixed with the present-day level of sulfate aerosol, the predicted annual mean surface temperature increase rises to 0.37 K globally, 0.54 K for the Northern Hemisphere, and 0.20 K for the Southern Hemisphere. The climate sensitivity of BC direct radiative forcing is calculated to be 0.6 K W−1 m2, which is about 70% of that of CO2, independent of the assumption of BC mixing state. The largest surface temperature response occurs over the northern high latitudes during winter and early spring. In the tropics and midlatitudes, the largest temperature increase is predicted to occur in the upper troposphere. Direct radiative forcing of anthropogenic BC is also predicted to lead to a change of precipitation patterns in the tropics; precipitation is predicted to increase between 0 and 20°N and decrease between 0 and 20°S, shifting the intertropical convergence zone northward. If BC is assumed to be internally mixed with sulfate instead of externally mixed, the change in precipitation pattern is enhanced. The change in precipitation pattern is not predicted to alter the global burden of BC significantly because the change occurs predominantly in regions removed from BC sources.