Journal cover Journal topic
Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
doi:10.5194/acp-2016-790
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
17 Oct 2016
Review status
A revision of this discussion paper was accepted for the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP) and is expected to appear here in due course.
Comparing multiple model-derived aerosol optical properties to collocated ground-based and satellite measurements
Ilissa B. Ocko1 and Paul A. Ginoux2 1Environmental Defense Fund, New York, 10010, USA
2NOAA Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, Princeton, 08540, USA
Abstract. Anthropogenic aerosols are a key factor governing Earth’s climate, and play a central role in human-caused climate change. However, because of aerosols’ complex physical, optical, and dynamical properties, aerosols are one of the most uncertain aspects of climate modeling. Fortunately, aerosol measurement networks over the past few decades have led to the establishment of long-term observations for numerous locations worldwide. Further, the availability of datasets from several different measurement techniques (such as ground-based and satellite instruments) can help scientists increasingly improve modeling efforts. This study explores the value of evaluating several model-simulated aerosol properties with data from collocated instruments. We compare optical depth (total, scattering, and absorption), single scattering albedo, Ångström exponent, and extinction vertical profiles in two prominent global climate models to seasonal observations from collocated instruments (AERONET and CALIOP) at seven polluted and biomass burning regions worldwide. We find that models may accurately reproduce one variable while totally failing at another; data from collocated instruments can reveal underlying aerosol-governing physics; column properties may wash out important vertical distinctions; and "improved" models does not mean all aspects are improved. We conclude that it is important to make use of all available data (parameters and instruments) when evaluating aerosol properties derived by models.

Citation: Ocko, I. B. and Ginoux, P. A.: Comparing multiple model-derived aerosol optical properties to collocated ground-based and satellite measurements, Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., doi:10.5194/acp-2016-790, in review, 2016.
Ilissa B. Ocko and Paul A. Ginoux
Ilissa B. Ocko and Paul A. Ginoux

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Short summary
Human-made liquid and solid particles (aerosols) are abundant in the atmosphere, and play a central role in climate change. Computer models are essential tools for understanding how aerosols impact the climate, but it is critical to evaluate a model's performance by comparing with observations. Here we analyze aerosol properties in two world-renowned models by comparing with ground-based and satellite instrument data. We find that comparisons with all available data is valuable and essential.
Human-made liquid and solid particles (aerosols) are abundant in the atmosphere, and play a...
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