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Scientific journal publication

Disentangling Aerosol and Cloud effects on Dimming and Brightening in Observations and CMIP6

Julsrud, Ingeborg Rian; Storelvmo, Trude; Schulz, Michael; Moseid, Kine Onsum; Wild, Martin

Publication details

Journal: Journal of Geophysical Research (JGR): Atmospheres, vol. 127, e2021JD035, 2022

Arkiv: http://hdl.handle.net/10852/97300
Doi: doi.org/10.1029/2021JD035476

Periods of dimming and brightening have been recorded in observational datasets of surface solar radiation (SSR) between the mid-20th century and present day. Atmospheric components affect SSR, including aerosols and clouds, though studies disagree somewhat about the relative effect of each component in different regions. Current Earth system models (ESMs) are unable to simulate observed trends in SSR. This study includes an investigation into observed SSR variations between 1961 and 2014 and an evaluation of the effects of cloud cover variations and impacts of aerosol extinction, using timeseries of SSR and cloud cover from in-situ measurements. Historical simulations by 42 ESMs participating in the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 6 (CMIP6) have also been studied and compared to observations. The observational study indicates that cloud cover has had a dampening effect on the variations of SSR and that emissions of aerosol and aerosol precursors are the main cause of the general trends in observed SSR in four regions—China, Japan, Europe and the United States—during 1961-2014. The study of simulated SSR in CMIP6 yields the conclusion that current ESMs remain unable to simulate the magnitude of observed dimming and brightening in China, Japan and the United States, but that the European SSR trends between 1961 and 2014 are fairly well reproduced in the ESMs. A rough quantification of the regional surface radiation extinction efficiency of aerosol and precursor emissions in the simulations is found to agree with observed values in Europe, but not in the other three regions.