J23.2 Enhanced Land–Sea Warming Contrast Elevates Aerosol Pollution in a Warmer World (Invited Presentation)

Tuesday, 14 January 2020: 1:45 PM
208 (Boston Convention and Exhibition Center)
Robert J. Allen, Univ. of California, Riverside, CA; and T. Hassan, C. Randles, and H. Su

Many climate models simulate an increase in anthropogenic aerosol species in response to warming, particularly over the Northern Hemisphere mid-latitudes during June, July and August. Recently, it has been argued that this increase in anthropogenic aerosols can be linked to a decrease in wet removal associated with reduced precipitation, but the mechanisms remain uncertain. Here, using a state-of-the-art climate model (the Community Atmosphere Model version 5), we expand on this notion to demonstrate that the enhanced aerosol burden and hydrological changes are related to a robust climate change phenomenon—the land–sea warming contrast. Enhanced land warming is associated with continental reductions in lower-tropospheric humidity that drive decreases in low clouds—particularly large scale (stratus) clouds—which, in turn, lead to reduced large-scale precipitation and aerosol wet removal. Idealized model simulations further show that muting the land–sea warming contrast weakens these hydrological changes, thereby suppressing the aerosol increase. Moreover, idealized simulations that only feature land warming yield enhanced continental aridity and an increase in aerosol burden. Thus, unless anthropogenic emission reductions occur, our results add confidence that a warmer world will be associated with enhanced aerosol pollution.
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