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Improving the Characterization of Aerosols as Forcing Agents

Principal Investigator: Philip Rasch

This project explores the role of aerosols on the climate system, and focuses primarily on the climatic response of the planet aerosols and the feedbacks between aerosol forcing and climate change. Simulations have been done at PNNL, the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (NERSC), and Oak Ridge National Laboratory exploring the climate response to present day and preindustrial aerosol emissions, and the role of aerosols emissions from various geographic regions (e.g. Asia) and aerosol types (e.g. the role of Black Carbon, or Sulfate) in changing climate as manifested for example by changes in clouds, surface temperature, and precipitation. Another objective of this study is to understand the contribution and role of anthropogenic aerosols emitted from within Asia vis-à-vis their global emissions in effecting the climate over the region. We are trying to separate the full climate response to aerosol effects in terms of their direct and indirect effects of aerosols. We wish to also identify the areas that are most vulnerable to climate responses, induced by increased anthropogenic emissions of aerosols from this region. The initial simulations to explore the thermal, radiative, and hydrological responses to the direct, indirect and semi-direct effects of anthropogenic and biomass burning aerosols on the South-Asian monsoon system have used the coupled atmosphere-mixed layer ocean model versions of CESM. The simulations are being carried out using the computational facilities from NERSC at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

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