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Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2018-904
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2018-904
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 11 Sep 2018

Research article | 11 Sep 2018

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

Variability, timescales, and non-linearity in climate responses to black carbon emissions

Yang Yang1, Steven J. Smith2, Hailong Wang1, Catrin M. Mills1, and Philip J. Rasch1 Yang Yang et al.
  • 1Atmospheric Sciences and Global Change Division, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, Washington, USA
  • 2Joint Global Change Research Institute, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, College Park, Maryland, USA

Abstract. Black carbon (BC) particles exert a potentially large warming influence on the Earth system. Reductions in BC emissions have attracted attention as a possible means to moderate near-term temperature changes. For the first time, we evaluate regional climate responses, non-linearity, and short-term transient responses to BC emission perturbations in the Arctic, mid-latitudes, and globally based on a comprehensive set of emission-driven experiments using the Community Earth System Model (CESM). Surface temperature responses to BC emissions are complex, with surface warming over land from mid-latitude BC perturbations partially offset by ocean cooling. Climate responses do not scale linearity with emissions. While stronger BC emission perturbations have a higher burden efficiency, their temperature sensitivity is lower. BC impacts temperature much faster than greenhouse gas forcing, with transient temperature responses in the Arctic and mid-latitudes approaching a quasi-equilibrium state with a timescale of 2–3 years. We find large variability in BC-induced climate changes due to background model noise. As a result, perturbing present-day BC emission levels results in no discernible net global-average surface temperature signal. In order to better understand the climatic impacts of BC emissions, both the drivers of non-linear responses and response variability need to be assessed across climate models.

Yang Yang et al.
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Short summary
Black carbon (BC) particles exert a potentially large warming influence on the Earth system. In this study, we found that BC effects on climate do not scale linearity with emissions and there may be no emission-driven BC results under current conditions that result in a statistically significant climatic change. In order to better understand the climatic impacts of BC emissions, both the drivers of non-linear responses and response variability need to be assessed across climate models.
Black carbon (BC) particles exert a potentially large warming influence on the Earth system. In...
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