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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2018-1337
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2018-1337
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 07 Feb 2019

Research article | 07 Feb 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP).

In-situ constraints on the vertical distribution of global aerosol

Duncan Watson-Parris1, Nick Schutgens2, Carly Reddington3, Kirsty J. Pringle3, Dantong Liu4, James D. Allan5,6, Hugh Coe5, Ken S. Carslaw3, and Philip Stier1 Duncan Watson-Parris et al.
  • 1Atmospheric, Oceanic and Planetary Physics, Department of Physics, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
  • 2Earth Sciences, Faculty of Science, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
  • 3School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK
  • 4Department of Atmospheric Sciences, School of Earth Sciences, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China
  • 5Centre for Atmospheric Science, SEAES, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK
  • 6National Centre for Atmospheric Science, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK

Abstract. Despite ongoing efforts, the vertical distribution of aerosols globally is poorly understood. This in turn leads to large uncertainties in the contributions of the direct and indirect aerosol forcing on climate. Using the Global Aerosol Synthesis and Science Project (GASSP) database – the largest synthesised collection of in-situ aircraft measurements currently available, with more than 1000 flights from 37 campaigns from around the world – we investigate the vertical structure of sub-micron aerosols across a wide range of regions and environments. The application of this unique dataset to assess the vertical distributions of number size distribution and Cloud Condensation Nuclei (CCN) in the global aerosol-climate model ECHAM-HAM reveals that the model underestimates accumulation mode particles in the upper troposphere, especially in remote regions. The processes underlying this discrepancy are explored using different aerosol microphysical schemes and a process sensitivity analysis. These show that the biases are predominantly related to aerosol ageing and removal rather than emissions.

Duncan Watson-Parris et al.
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Duncan Watson-Parris et al.
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Latest update: 16 Feb 2019
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Short summary
The vertical distribution of aerosol in the atmosphere affects its ability to act as cloud condensation nuclei, and changes the amount of sunlight it absorbs or reflects. Common global measurements of aerosol provide no information about this vertical distribution. Using a global collection of in-situ aircraft measurements to compare with an aerosol-climate model (ECHAM-HAM) we explore the key processes controlling this distribution and find that wet removal plays a key role.
The vertical distribution of aerosol in the atmosphere affects its ability to act as cloud...
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