Changes in the global sulfate burden due to perturbations in global CO2 concentrations
Ackerley, D., Highwood, E. J., Frame, D. and Booth, B. (2009) Changes in the global sulfate burden due to perturbations in global CO2 concentrations. Journal of Climate, 22 (20). pp. 5421-5432. ISSN 1520-0442
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1175/2009JCLI2536.1
A large ensemble of general circulation model (GCM) integrations coupled to a fully interactive sulfur cycle scheme were run on the climateprediction.net platform to investigate the uncertainty in the climate response to sulfate aerosol and carbon dioxide (CO2) forcing. The sulfate burden within the model (and the atmosphere) depends on the balance between formation processes and deposition (wet and dry). The wet removal processes for sulfate aerosol are much faster than dry removal and so any changes in atmospheric circulation, cloud cover, and precipitation will feed back on the sulfate burden. When CO2 is doubled in the Hadley Centre Slab Ocean Model (HadSM3), global mean precipitation increased by 5%; however, the global mean sulfate burden increased by 10%. Despite the global mean increase in precipitation, there were large areas of the model showing decreases in precipitation (and cloud cover) in the Northern Hemisphere during June–August, which reduced wet deposition and allowed the sulfate burden to increase. Further experiments were also undertaken with and without doubling CO2 while including a future anthropogenic sulfur emissions scenario. Doubling CO2 further enhanced the increases in sulfate burden associated with increased anthropogenic sulfur emissions as observed in the doubled CO2-only experiment. The implications are that the climate response to doubling CO2 can influence the amount of sulfate within the atmosphere and, despite increases in global mean precipitation, may act to increase it.