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https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2020-42
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2020-42
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 11 Mar 2020

Submitted as: research article | 11 Mar 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal ACP.

Quantifying the sensitivity of aerosol optical properties to the parameterizations of physico-chemical processes during the 2010 Russian wildfires and heatwave

Laura Palacios-Peña1, Philip Stier2, Raquel Lorente-Plazas3, and Pedro Jiménez-Guerrero1,4 Laura Palacios-Peña et al.
  • 1Physics of the Earth, Regional Campus of International Excellence “Campus Mare Nostrum", University of Murcia, Spain
  • 2Atmospheric, Oceanic and Planetary Physics, Department of Physics, University of Oxford, UK
  • 3Dept. of Meteorology, Meteored, Almendricos, Spain
  • 4Biomedical Research Institute of Murcia (IMIB-Arrixaca), Spain

Abstract. The impact of aerosol-radiation and aerosol-clouds interactions on the radiative forcing is subject to large uncertainties. This is caused by the limited understanding of aerosol optical properties and the role of aerosols as cloud condensation/ice nuclei (CCN/IN). On the other hand, aerosol optical properties and vertical distribution are highly related and their uncertainties come from different processes. This work attempts to quantify the sensitivity of aerosol optical properties (i.e. aerosol optical depth; AOD) and their vertical distribution (using the extinction coefficient, backscatter coefficient, and concentrations species profiles) to key processes. In order to achieve this objective sensitivity tests have been carried out, using the WRF-Chem regional fully coupled model by modifying the dry deposition, sub-grid convective transport, relative humidity and wet scavenging. The 2010 Russian heatwave/wildfire episode has been selected as case study.

Results indicate that AOD is sensitive to these key processes in the following order of importance: 1) modification of relative humidity, causing AOD differences up to 0.6; 2) modification of vertical convection transport with AOD differences around  0.4; and 3) the dry deposition with AOD differences up to −0.35 and 0.3. Moreover, these AOD changes exhibit a non-linear response. Both, an increase and a decrease in the RH result in higher AOD values. On the other hand, both, the increase and offset of the sub-grid convective transport lead to a reduction in the AOD over the fire area. In addition, a similar non-linear response is found when reducing the dry deposition velocity; in particular, for the accumulation mode where the concentration of several species increases (while a decrease might be expected). These non-linear responses are highly dependent on the equilibrium of the thermodynamics system sulphate-nitrate-SOA (secondary organic aerosol). In this sense, small changes in the concentration of one species can strongly affect others, finally affecting aerosol optical properties. Changes in this equilibrium could come from modifications in relative humidity, dry deposition or vertical convective transport. By itself, dry deposition also presents a high uncertainty influencing the AOD representation.

Laura Palacios-Peña et al.

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Short summary
It is widely known that the impact of aerosol-radiation and aerosol-clouds interactions on the radiative forcing is subject to large uncertainties. This is mainly due to the lack of understanding of aerosol optical properties and vertical distribution, whose uncertainties come from different processes. This work attempts to quantify the sensitivity of aerosol optical properties and their vertical distribution to key physico-chemical processes.
It is widely known that the impact of aerosol-radiation and aerosol-clouds interactions on the...
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