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Global Climate Change Digest

A Guide to Information on Greenhouse Gases and Ozone Depletion
Published July 1988 through June 1999



Item #d99apr12

“Tropospheric Aerosol Climate Forcing in Clear-Sky Satellite Observations over the Oceans,” J. M. Haywood, V. Ramaswamy, and B. J. Soden,Science 283 (5406), 1299-1303 (1999).

A new approach to determine the direct effects of aerosols on Earth’s climate combines satellite data of reflected sunlight with results from numerical models. Geographical patterns attributable to tropospheric aerosols are inferred by comparing radiative computations using model-derived estimates of natural and anthropogenic aerosol distributions with clear-sky satellite-measured solar irradiances over oceans. However, naturally occurring sea salt is revealed as the leading aerosol contributor to the global mean clear-sky radiation balance over oceans.

Item #d99apr13

“Solving the Aerosol Puzzle,” J. T. Kiehl,Science 283 (5406), 1273-1275 (1999).

This overview places the research of Haywood et al. (see previous entry) in the larger context of the issues of anthropogenic influences on climate, particularly the role of aerosols from fossil-fuel burning and industrial emissions. Complications result from the uncertainties in the size and location of aerosol forcing, the interactions of different types of aerosols, and their indirect effects. Measurements at the Earth’s surface are needed to validate and improve satellite observations, particularly examination of the precise chemical composition and physical properties of aerosols and their vertical distribution. The validity of 3-D chemical-transport models needs to be examined with these same data. Recent research and new observational programs (e.g., the international Indian Ocean Experiment, NASA’s Earth Observation System, and a joint U.S.-French satellite) are viewed as steps in the coordinated integration of observation and modeling and a reason for optimism in solving the aerosol puzzle.

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