Bauer, SE; Tsigaridis, K; Faluvegi, G; Kelley, M; Lo, KK; Miller, RL; Nazarenko, L; Schmidt, GA; Wu, JB (2020). Historical (1850-2014) Aerosol Evolution and Role on Climate Forcing Using the GISS ModelE2.1 Contribution to CMIP6. JOURNAL OF ADVANCES IN MODELING EARTH SYSTEMS, 12(8), e2019MS001978.

The Earth's climate is rapidly changing. Over the past centuries, aerosols, via their ability to absorb or scatter solar radiation and alter clouds, played an important role in counterbalancing some of the greenhouse gas (GHG) caused global warming. The multicentury anthropogenic aerosol cooling effect prevented present-day climate from reaching even higher surface air temperatures and subsequent more dramatic climate impacts. Trends in aerosol concentrations and optical depth show that in many polluted regions such as Europe and the United States, aerosol precursor emissions decreased back to levels of the 1950s. More recent polluting countries such as China may have reached a turning point in recent years as well, while India still follows an upward trend. Here we study aerosol trends in the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 6 (CMIP6) simulations of the GISS ModelE2.1 climate model using a fully coupled atmosphere composition configuration, including interactive gas-phase chemistry and either an aerosol microphysical (MATRIX) or a mass-based (One-Moment Aerosol, OMA) aerosol module. Results show that whether global aerosol radiative forcing is already declining depends on the aerosol scheme used. Using the aerosol microphysical scheme, where the aerosol system reacts more strongly to the trend in sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions, global peak direct aerosol forcing was reached in the 1980s, whereas the mass-based scheme simulates peak direct aerosol forcing around 2010.