Scientific Publications

Aircraft soot indirect effect on large-scale cirrus clouds: Is the indirect forcing by aircraft soot positive or negative?

Published
2014


Abstract - The indirect effect of aircraft soot on cirrus clouds is subject to large uncertainties due to uncertainty in the effectiveness of aircraft soot acting as heterogeneous ice nuclei (IN) and the complexity caused by background ice nucleation, which introduces two major competing ice nucleation mechanisms: homogeneous freezing that generally produces more abundant ice particles and heterogeneous nucleation that generally produces fewer ice particles. In this paper, we used the coupled Community Atmosphere Model version 5.2 (CAM5)/IMPACT model to estimate the climate impacts of aircraft soot acting as IN in large-scale cirrus clouds. We assume that only the aircraft soot particles that are preactivated in persistent contrail cirrus clouds are efficient IN. Further, we assume that these particles lose their ability to act as efficient IN when they become coated with three
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monolayers of sulfate. We varied the background number concentration of sulfate aerosols allowed to act as homogeneous ice nucleation sites as well as the dust concentrations that act as heterogeneous ice nuclei to examine the sensitivity of the forcing by aircraft soot to the background atmosphere. The global average effect can range from a high negative (cooling) rate, −0.35 W m−2, for the high sulfate/low dust case to a positive (warming) rate, +0.09 W m−2, for the low sulfate/low dust case (default CAM5 setup) when approximately 0.6% of total aviation soot acts as IN. The net negative forcing is caused by the addition of IN to a background atmosphere that is dominated by homogeneous nucleation (mainly in the tropic Indian Ocean, Central America, and North Atlantic Ocean). The forcings can be all positive, about +0.11 to +0.21 W m−2, when the background atmosphere is dominated by pure heterogeneous ice nucleation.


Zhou, C., & J. E. Penner (2014) Aircraft soot indirect effect on large-scale cirrus clouds: Is the indirect forcing by aircraft soot positive or negative?, JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH: ATMOSPHERES 119(19):11,303-11,320.

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