Sensitivity of climate forcing and response to dust optical properties in an idealized model Public Deposited

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  • An idealized global climate model is used to explore the response of the climate to a wide range of dust radiative properties and dust layer heights. The top-of-the-atmosphere (TOA) shortwave forcing becomes more negative as the broadband shortwave single scattering albedo increases and the broadband shortwave asymmetry parameter decreases, but the sensitivity is highly dependent on the location of the dust layer with respect to clouds. The longwave TOA forcing is most affected by the height of the dust layer. The net TOA forcing is most sensitive to the shortwave single scattering albedo and shortwave asymmetry parameter. The surface and atmospheric temperature responses are approximately linear with respect to the TOA forcing, as opposed to the surface or atmospheric forcings. Thus the TOA forcing can be used to estimate both the surface and atmospheric temperature responses to dust. The corresponding changes in latent and sensible heat fluxes are essential for the close relationship of the surface temperature response to the TOA forcing. Estimating the hydrological cycle response requires knowledge of the vertical distribution of dust with respect to clouds or other reflective particles. The sensitivity of the latent heat flux to variations in the shortwave single scattering albedo changes sign with dust height. The latent heat flux change becomes less negative as the shortwave single scattering albedo increases if the dust layer is below clouds. However, when the dust is above clouds, the latent heat response becomes more negative as the single scattering albedo increases.
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  • Shell, K. M., and R. C. J. Somerville (2007), Sensitivity of climate forcing and response to dust optical properties in an idealized model, J. Geophys. Res., 112, D03206.
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