Anna Lewinschal
Department of Meteorology, Stockholm University

Interactions between aerosols and large-scale circulation systems in the atmosphere

Time and place
Fri 18 Oct 2013, 10.00
Föreläsningssalen, Institutionen för ekologi, miljö & botanik, Lilla Frescativägen 5

(This event has taken place.)


Anthropogenic aerosol emissions have increased during the last century. The higher atmospheric aerosol burden is believed to partly have masked the enhanced greenhouse gas warming during the same period. However, the many different types of aerosols, and the uncertainties regarding their effect on clouds, makes it difficult to estimate their total climate impact. With their strong effect on atmospheric radiation and their varying spatial and temporal distribution, aerosols may also affect the atmospheric circulation. This thesis focuses on aspects of aerosol-induced circulation changes as represented in general circulations models.

Anthropogenic aerosol forcing is believed to generally cool the earth system, but model simulations show that the strongest cooling is not necessarily co-located with the strongest aerosol radiative forcing. It is shown that aerosol forcing can cause anomalies in the stationary wave pattern, which affects surface temperatures far from the region of aerosol forcing. In absence of a substantial global mean aerosol-induced cooling, the anomalous stationary wave pattern has a large influence on the simulated temperature-response pattern. The waves are primarily generated by aerosol-induced precipitation changes in the tropics, showing an important connection between aerosol emissions at low latitudes and surface temperate changes in the extra-tropics.

It is also demonstrated that the aerosol climate response differs depending on how the ocean surface is represented in a model, i.e. if a sea surface temperature response is permitted or not. The anthropogenic aerosol forcing generates a stronger cooling of the northern hemisphere when the sea surface temperatures can change compared to when they are fixed. The stronger inter-hemispheric temperature gradient affects both the tropical and extra-tropical zonal mean circulation. Thus, aerosol-induced circulation changes are dependent on the simulated surface temperature response.