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Li, F, Vogelmann, AM, Ramanathan, V (2004). Saharan dust aerosol radiative forcing measured from space. JOURNAL OF CLIMATE, 17(13), 2558-2571.

This study uses data collected from the Clouds and the Earth's Radiant Energy System (CERES) and the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer ( MODIS) instruments to determine Saharan dust broadband shortwave aerosol radiative forcing over the Atlantic Ocean near the African coast (15degrees-25degreesN, 45degrees-15degreesW). The clear-sky aerosol forcing is derived directly from these data, without requiring detailed information about the aerosol properties that are not routinely observed such as chemical composition, microphysical properties, and their height variations. To determine the diurnally averaged Saharan dust radiative forcing efficiency (i.e., broadband shortwave forcing per unit optical depth at 550 nm, W m(-2) tau(alpha)(-1)), two extreme seasons are juxtaposed: the high-dust months [June-August (JJA)] and the low-dust months [November-January (NDJ)]. It is found that the top-of-atmosphere (TOA) diurnal mean forcing efficiency is -35 +/- 3 W m(-2) tau(alpha)(-1) for JJA, and -26 +/- 3 W m(-2) tau(alpha)(-1) for NDJ. These efficiencies can be fit by reducing the spectrally varying aerosol single-scattering albedo such that its value at 550 nm is reduced from 0.95 +/- 0.04 for JJA to about 0.86 +/- 0.04 for NDJ. The lower value for the low-dust months might be influenced by biomass-burning aerosols that were transported into the study region from equatorial Africa. Although the high-dust season has a greater ( absolute value of the) TOA forcing efficiency, the low-dust season may have a greater surface forcing efficiency. Extrapolations based on model calculations suggest the surface forcing efficiencies to be about -65 W m(-2) tau(alpha)(-1) for the high-dust season versus -81 W m(-2) tau(alpha)(-1)for the low-dust season. These observations indicate that the aerosol character within a region can be readily modified, even immediately adjacent to a powerful source region such as the Sahara. This study provides important observational constraints for models of dust radiative forcing.



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