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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2019-556
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2019-556
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 12 Aug 2019

Submitted as: research article | 12 Aug 2019

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

Natural sea-salt emissions moderate the climate forcing of anthropogenic nitrate

Ying Chen1,2,3,8, Yafang Cheng2, Nan Ma4,2,3,1, Chao Wei3, Liang Ran5, Ralf Wolke1, Johannes Größ1, Qiaoqiao Wang4, Andrea Pozzer6, Hugo A. C. Denier van der Gon7, Gerald Spindler1, Jos Lelieveld6,9, Ina Tegen1, Hang Su3, and Alfred Wiedensohler1 Ying Chen et al.
  • 1Leibniz-Institute for Tropospheric Research, Leipzig, Germany
  • 2Minerva Research Group, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Mainz, Germany
  • 3Multiphase Chemistry Department, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Mainz, Germany
  • 4Center for Pollution and Climate Change Research (APCC), Institute for Environmental and Climate Research, Jinan University, Guangzhou, China
  • 5Key Laboratory of Middle Atmosphere and Global Environment Observation, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
  • 6Atmospheric Chemistry Department, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Mainz, Germany
  • 7TNO, Dept. of Climate, Air and Sustainability, Princetonlaan 6, Utrecht, the Netherlands
  • 8Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University, Lancaster, UK
  • 9The Cyprus Institute, Nicosia, Cyprus

Abstract. Natural sea-salt aerosols, when interacting with anthropogenic emissions, can enhance the formation of particulate nitrate. This enhancement has been suggested to increase the direct radiative forcing of nitrate, called mass-enhancement effect. Through a size-resolved dynamic mass transfer modelling approach, we show that interactions with sea-salt shift the nitrate from sub- to super-micron sizes (re-distribution effect), and hence lower its efficiency for light extinction and reduce its lifetime. The re-distribution effect overwhelms the mass-enhancement effect and significantly moderates nitrate cooling; e.g., the nitrate associated aerosol optical depth can be reduced by 10–20 % over European polluted regions during a typical sea-salt event, in contrast to an increase by ~ 10 % when only accounting for the mass-enhancement effect. Global model simulations indicate significant re-distribution over coastal and offshore regions world-wide. Our study suggests a strong buffering by natural sea-salt aerosols that reduces the climate forcing of anthropogenic nitrate, which had been expected to dominate the aerosol cooling by the end of the century. Comprehensive considerations of this re-distribution effect foster better understandings of climate change and nitrogen deposition.

Ying Chen et al.
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Short summary
Particulate nitrate is one of the most important climate cooling agents. Our results show that interaction with sea-salt aerosol can shift nitrate to larger sized particles (re-distribution effect), leading to weaken of its direct cooling effect. The modelling results indicate strong re-distribution over coastal and offshore regions world-wide as well as continental Europe. Improve the consideration of the re-distribution effect in global models foster better understandings of climate change.
Particulate nitrate is one of the most important climate cooling agents. Our results show that...
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