Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Aerosol forcing uncertainty represents the largest climate forcing uncertainty overall. Its magnitude has remained virtually undiminished over the past 20 years despite considerable advances in understanding most of the key contributing elements. Recent work has produced modest increases only in the confidence of the uncertainty estimate itself. This review summarizes the contributions toward reducing the uncertainty in the aerosol forcing of climate made by satellite observations, measurements taken within the atmosphere, as well as modeling and data assimilation. We adopt a more measurement-oriented perspective than most reviews of the subject in assessing the strengths and limitations of each; gaps and possible ways to fill them are considered. Currently planned programs supporting advanced, global-scale satellite and surface-based aerosol, cloud, and precursor gas observations, climate modeling, and intensive field campaigns aimed at characterizing the underlying physical and chemical processes involved, are all essential. But in addition, new efforts are needed: (1) to obtain systematic aircraft in situ measurements capturing the multi-variate probability distribution functions of particle optical, microphysical, and chemical properties (and associated uncertainty estimates), as well as co-variability with meteorology, for the major aerosol airmass types; (2) to conceive, develop, and implement a suborbital (aircraft plus surface-based) program aimed at systematically quantifying the cloud-scale microphysics, cloud optical properties, and cloud related vertical velocities associated with aerosol-cloud interactions; and (3) to focus much more research on integrating the unique contributions satellite observations, suborbital measurements, and modeling, in order to reduce the uncertainty in aerosol climate forcing.


Journal article


Reviews of Geophysics


American Geophysical Union

Publication Date