Journal cover Journal topic
Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 8, 4787-4798, 2008
© Author(s) 2008. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
19 Aug 2008
Parameterization of sea-salt optical properties and physics of the associated radiative forcing
J. Li1, X. Ma1, K. von Salzen1, and S. Dobbie2
1Canadian Centre For Climate Modelling and Analysis, Science and Technology Branch, Environment Canada, University of Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
2Institute for Climate and Atmospheric Science, School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK

Abstract. The optical properties of sea-salt aerosol have been parameterized at shortwave and longwave wavelengths. The optical properties were parameterized in a simple functional form in terms of the ambient relative humidity based on Mie optical property calculations. The proposed parameterization is tested relative to Mie calculations and is found to be accurate to within a few percent. In the parameterization, the effects of the size distribution on the optical properties are accounted for in terms of effective radius of the sea-salt size distribution. This parameterization differs from previous works by being formulated directly with the wet sea-salt size distribution and, to our knowledge, this is the first published sea-salt parameterization to provide a parameterization for both shortwave and longwave wavelengths.

We have used this parameterization in a set of idealized 1-D radiative transfer calculations to investigate the sensitivity of various attributes of sea-salt forcing, including the dependency on sea-salt column loading, effective variance, solar angle, and surface albedo. From these sensitivity tests, it is found that sea-salt forcings for both shortwave and longwave spectra are linearly related to the sea-salt loading for realistic values of loadings. The radiative forcing results illustrate that the shortwave forcing is an order of magnitude greater than the longwave forcing results and opposite in sign, for various loadings. Forcing sensitivity studies show that the influence of effective variance for sea-salt is minor; therefore, only one value of effective variance is used in the parameterization. The dependence of sea-salt forcing with solar zenith angle illustrates an interesting result that sea-salt can generate a positive top-of-the-atmosphere result (i.e. warming) when the solar zenith angle is relatively small (i.e. <30°). Finally, it is found that the surface albedo significantly affects the shortwave radiative forcing, with the forcing diminishing to zero as the surface albedo tends to unity.

Citation: Li, J., Ma, X., von Salzen, K., and Dobbie, S.: Parameterization of sea-salt optical properties and physics of the associated radiative forcing, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 8, 4787-4798, doi:10.5194/acp-8-4787-2008, 2008.
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