Journal cover Journal topic
Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
© Author(s) 2010. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
17 Sep 2010
Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It has been under review for the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP). The revised manuscript was not accepted.
Effects of ship wakes on ocean brightness and radiative forcing over ocean
C. K. Gatebe1,2, R. Poudyal2,3, E. Wilcox2,*, and J. Wang2,4 1Goddard Earth Sciences and Technology Center, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Baltimore, Maryland 21228, USA
2NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland 20771, USA
3Science Systems and Applications, Inc., Lanham, Maryland 20706, USA
4University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 303 Bessey Hall Lincoln, Nebraska, 68588-0340, USA
*present address: Desert Research Institute, Reno, Nevada 89512, USA
Abstract. Changes in surface albedo represent one of the main forcing agents that can counteract, to some extent, the positive forcing from increasing greenhouse gas concentrations. Here, we quantify the changes in ocean surface albedo from ship wakes and provide an estimate of radiative forcing over the global oceans. Our analysis is based on airborne radiation measurements over the Pacific Ocean near the California coast, where we determined that a ship wake increases reflected sunlight by more than 100% in some cases. Based on registered ships of 100 000 gross tonnage (GT), and assuming a global distribution of 30 000 ships, we estimated the global radiative forcing of ship wakes to be −0.003 Wm−2, which is comparable to the forcing of aircraft contrails, but not anticipated in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2007 assessment report. From these results, we conclude that the climate impacts associated with ships will become more significant with growing ship traffic.
Citation: Gatebe, C. K., Poudyal, R., Wilcox, E., and Wang, J.: Effects of ship wakes on ocean brightness and radiative forcing over ocean, Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 10, 21683-21696,, 2010.
C. K. Gatebe et al.
C. K. Gatebe et al.


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