Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres

Spectral aerosol direct radiative forcing from airborne radiative measurements during CalNex and ARCTAS

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Abstract

[1] This study presents the aerosol radiative forcing derived from airborne measurements of shortwave spectral irradiance during the 2010 Research at the Nexus of Air Quality and Climate Change (CalNex). Relative forcing efficiency, the radiative forcing normalized by aerosol optical thickness and incident irradiance, is a means of comparing the aerosol radiative forcing for different conditions. In this study, it is used to put the aerosol radiative effects of an air mass in the Los Angeles basin in context with case studies from three field missions that targeted other regions and aerosol types, including a case study from the Arctic Research of the Composition of the Troposphere from Aircraft and Satellites (ARCTAS). For CalNex, we relied on irradiance measurements onboard the NOAA P-3 aircraft during a flight on 19 May 2010 over a ground station. CalNex presented a difficulty for determining forcing efficiency since one of the input parameters, optical thickness, was not available from the same aircraft. However, extinction profiles were available from a nearby aircraft. An existing retrieval algorithm was modified to use those measurements as initial estimate for the missing optical thickness. In addition, single scattering albedo and asymmetry parameter (secondary products of the method), were compared with CalNex in situ measurements. The CalNex relative forcing efficiency spectra agreed with earlier studies that found this parameter to be constrained at each wavelength within 20% per unit of aerosol optical thickness at 500 nm regardless of aerosol type and experiment, except for highly absorbing aerosols sampled near Mexico City. The diurnally averaged below-layer forcing efficiency integrated over the wavelength range of 350–700 nm for CalNex is estimated to be −58.6 ± 13.8 W/m2, whereas for the ARCTAS case it is −48.7 ± 11.5 W/m2.

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