Geographically coherent patterns of albedo enhancement and suppression associated with aerosol sources and sinks
2015 (English)In: Tellus. Series B, Chemical and physical meteorology, ISSN 0280-6509, E-ISSN 1600-0889, Vol. 67, 1-9 p., 26442Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Earth's albedo is the primary determinant of the amount of energy absorbed by the Earth-atmosphere system. It is a function of the fractional cloud cover and the cloudy-and clear-sky albedos, and thereby of the aerosol loading of the atmosphere. Here, we introduce a method by which we can examine the spatial distribution of the albedo variability that is independent of variations in the two dominant factors of albedo: cloud fraction and liquid water path (LWP). The analysis is based on data simultaneously retrieved from the CERES and MODIS instruments carried on board the Aqua satellite. We analysed the daily overpass data between July 2002 and June 2014 and showed that perturbations in albedo, accounting for variations induced by cloud fraction and LWP, display a coherent geographical pattern. Positive deviations occur in proximity to known anthropogenic aerosol sources, and negative deviations coincide with areas of intense precipitation, acting as aerosol sinks. A simple multiplication of the observed positive perturbations in albedo with the solar flux of 340Wm(-2) yields a magnitude of that effect of several watts per square meter locally. While the location and scale of the geographical pattern might suggest an anthropogenic contribution to the positive albedo perturbations, it is imperative to first carefully examine all other possible causal factors behind the perturbations. Finally, although we have not attempted a full calculation of detection limits, the analysis is capable of sensing very small changes in average albedo of the order of 0.003 out of a total albedo of the order of 0.3. Hence, the applied method might find utilisation in a variety of situations where there is a need to quantify small perturbations of a dependent variable in noisy global data sets.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 67, 1-9 p., 26442
albedo, cloud fraction, liquid water path, aerosol effects
Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-117413DOI: 10.3402/tellusb.v67.26442ISI: 000353638500001OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-117413DiVA: diva2:814239