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Volume 18, issue 11 | Copyright

Special issue: Chemistry–Climate Modelling Initiative (CCMI) (ACP/AMT/ESSD/GMD...

Atmos. Chem. Phys., 18, 8173-8182, 2018
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-18-8173-2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 13 Jun 2018

Research article | 13 Jun 2018

Sensitivity of atmospheric aerosol scavenging to precipitation intensity and frequency in the context of global climate change

Pei Hou1,2, Shiliang Wu1,2,3, Jessica L. McCarty4,5, and Yang Gao3 Pei Hou et al.
  • 1Atmospheric Sciences Program, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI 49931, USA
  • 2Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI 49931, USA
  • 3College of Environmental Science and Engineering, Ocean University of China, Qingdao, China
  • 4Michigan Tech Research Institute, Ann Arbor, MI 48105, USA
  • 5Department of Geography, Miami University, Oxford, OH 45056, USA

Abstract. Wet deposition driven by precipitation is an important sink for atmospheric aerosols and soluble gases. We investigate the sensitivity of atmospheric aerosol lifetimes to precipitation intensity and frequency in the context of global climate change. Our sensitivity model simulations, through some simplified perturbations to precipitation in the GEOS-Chem model, show that the removal efficiency and hence the atmospheric lifetime of aerosols have significantly higher sensitivities to precipitation frequencies than to precipitation intensities, indicating that the same amount of precipitation may lead to different removal efficiencies of atmospheric aerosols. Combining the long-term trends of precipitation patterns for various regions with the sensitivities of atmospheric aerosol lifetimes to various precipitation characteristics allows us to examine the potential impacts of precipitation changes on atmospheric aerosols. Analyses based on an observational dataset show that precipitation frequencies in some regions have decreased in the past 14 years, which might increase the atmospheric aerosol lifetimes in those regions. Similar analyses based on multiple reanalysis meteorological datasets indicate that the changes of precipitation intensity and frequency over the past 30 years can lead to perturbations in the atmospheric aerosol lifetimes by 10% or higher at the regional scale.

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Atmospheric aerosols can be affected not only by emissions, but also meteorology, in particular precipitation. Analyses of the historical meteorological data based on multiple datasets show significant changes in precipitation characteristics, including precipitation intensity and frequency, over various regions around the world. We find that the precipitation changes over the past 30 years can easily lead to perturbations in atmospheric aerosols by 10 % or higher at the regional scale.
Atmospheric aerosols can be affected not only by emissions, but also meteorology, in particular...
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