Using the fast impact of anthropogenic aerosols on regional land temperature to constrain aerosol forcing

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Science Advances  05 Aug 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 32, eabb5297
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abb5297


Anthropogenic aerosols have been postulated to have a cooling effect on climate, but its magnitude remains uncertain. Using atmospheric general circulation model simulations, we separate the land temperature response into a fast response to radiative forcings and a slow response to changing oceanic conditions and find that the former accounts for about one fifth of the observed warming of the Northern Hemisphere land during summer and autumn since the 1960s. While small, this fast response can be constrained by observations. Spatially varying aerosol effects can be detected on the regional scale, specifically warming over Europe and cooling over Asia. These results provide empirical evidence for the important role of aerosols in setting regional land temperature trends and point to an emergent constraint that suggests strong global aerosol forcing and high transient climate response.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

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