Sensitivity of photolysis frequencies and key tropospheric oxidants in a global...

Liu, H., J. Crawford, D. Considine, S. Platnick, P. M. Norris, B. Duncan, B. Pierce, G. Chen, and R. M. Yantosca (2009), Sensitivity of photolysis frequencies and key tropospheric oxidants in a global model to cloud vertical distributions and optical properties, J. Geophys. Res., 114, D10305, doi:10.1029/2008JD011503.

Clouds directly affect tropospheric photochemistry through modification of solar radiation that determines photolysis frequencies. As a follow-up study to our recent assessment of these direct radiative effects of clouds on tropospheric chemistry, this paper presents an analysis of the sensitivity of such effects to cloud vertical distributions and optical properties (cloud optical depths (CODs) and cloud single scattering albedo), in a global three-dimensional (3-D) chemical transport model. The model was driven with a series of meteorological archives (GEOS-1 in support of the Stratospheric Tracers of Atmospheric Transport mission, or GEOS1-STRAT, GEOS-3, and GEOS-4) generated by the NASA Goddard Earth Observing System (GEOS) data assimilation system. Clouds in GEOS1-STRAT and GEOS-3 have more similar vertical distributions (with substantially smaller CODs in GEOS1-STRAT) while those in GEOS-4 are optically much thinner in the tropical upper troposphere. We find that the radiative impact of clouds on global photolysis frequencies and hydroxyl radical (OH) is more sensitive to the vertical distribution of clouds than to the magnitude of column CODs. With random vertical overlap for clouds, the model calculated changes in global mean OH (J(O1D), J(NO2)) due to the radiative effects of clouds in June are about 0.0% (0.4%, 0.9%), 0.8% (1.7%, 3.1%), and 7.3% (4.1%, 6.0%) for GEOS1-STRAT, GEOS-3, and GEOS-4, respectively; the geographic distributions of these quantities show much larger changes, with maximum decrease in OH concentrations of $15–35% near the midlatitude surface. The much larger global impact of clouds in GEOS-4 reflects the fact that more solar radiation is able to penetrate through the optically thin upper tropospheric clouds, increasing backscattering from low-level clouds. Model simulations with each of the three cloud distributions all show that the change in the global burden of ozone due to clouds is less than 5%. Model perturbation experiments with GEOS-3, where the magnitude of 3-D CODs are progressively varied from -100% to 100%, predict only modest changes (<5%) in global mean OH concentrations. J(O1D), J(NO2), and OH concentrations show the strongest sensitivity for small CODs and become insensitive at large CODs owing to saturation effects. Caution should be exercised not to use in photochemical models a value for cloud single scattering albedo lower than about 0.999 in order to be consistent with the current knowledge of cloud absorption at the ultraviolet wavelengths.

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Atmospheric Composition Modeling and Analysis Program (ACMAP)
Modeling Analysis and Prediction Program (MAP)