CICERO - Center for International Climate Research
Energy Food and forests Climate finance Local Solutions China The Arctic ​International Climate Policy

Standard climate models radiation codes underestimate black carbon radiative forcing

Gunnar Myhre, Bjørn Hallvard Samset

Radiative forcing (RF) of black carbon (BC) in the atmosphere is estimated using radiative transfer codes of various complexities. Here we show that the two-stream radiative transfer codes used most in climate models give too strong forward scattering, leading to enhanced absorption at the surface and too weak absorption by BC in the atmosphere. Such calculations are found to underestimate the positive RF of BC by 10% for global mean, all sky conditions, relative to the more sophisticated multi-stream models. The underestimation occurs primarily for low surface albedo, even though BC is more efficient for absorption of solar radiation over high surface albedo.

More details