Potential sea salt aerosol sources from frost flowers in the pan-Arctic region

TitlePotential sea salt aerosol sources from frost flowers in the pan-Arctic region
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsXu L, Russell LM, Burrows S.M
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres
Date Published2016/09
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number2169-897X
Accession NumberWOS:000385836000030
KeywordsArctic; center; climate model; Cloud microphysics; community atmosphere model; frost flower; ice; longwave cloud radiative forcing; national; parameterization; representation; sea salt aerosol; sensitivity; surface; trends

In order to better represent observed wintertime aerosol mass and number concentrations in the pan-Arctic (60 degrees N-90 degrees N) region, we implemented an observationally based parameterization for estimating sea salt production from frost flowers in the Community Earth System Model (CESM, version 1.2.1). In this work, we evaluate the potential influence of this sea salt source on the pan-Arctic climate. Results show that frost flower salt emissions increase the modeled surface sea salt aerosol mass concentration by roughly 200% at Barrow and 100% at Alert and accumulation-mode number concentration by about a factor of 2 at Barrow and more than a factor of 10 at Alert in the winter months when new sea ice and frost flowers are present. The magnitude of sea salt aerosol mass and number concentrations at the surface in Barrow during winter simulated by the model configuration that includes this parameterization agrees better with observations by 48% and 12%, respectively, than the standard CESM simulation without a frost flower salt particle source. At Alert, the simulation with this parameterization overestimates observed sea salt aerosol mass concentration by 150% during winter in contrast to the underestimation of 63% in the simulation without this frost flower source, while it produces particle number concentration about 14% closer to observation than the standard CESM simulation. However, because the CESM version used here underestimates transported sulfate in winter, the reference accumulation-mode number concentrations at Alert are also underestimated. Adding these frost flower salt particle emissions increases sea salt aerosol optical depth by 10% in the pan-Arctic region and results in a small cooling at the surface. The increase in salt aerosol mass concentrations of a factor of 8 provides nearly two times the cloud condensation nuclei concentration at supersaturation of 0.1%, as well as 10% increases in cloud droplet number and 40% increases in liquid water content near coastal regions adjacent to continents. These cloud changes reduce longwave cloud forcing at the top of the atmosphere by 3% and cause a small surface warming, increasing the downward longwave flux at the surface by 1.8Wm(-2) in the pan-Arctic under the present-day climate. This regional average longwave warming due to the presence of clouds attributed to frost flower sea salts is roughly half of previous observed surface longwave fluxes and cloud-forcing estimates reported in Alaska, implying that the longwave enhancement due to frost flower salts may be comparable to those estimated for anthropogenic aerosol emissions. Since the potential frost flower area is parameterized as the maximum possible region on which frost flowers grow for the modeled atmospheric temperature and sea ice conditions and the model underestimates the number of accumulation-mode particles from midlatitude anthropogenic sources transported in winter, the calculated aerosol indirect effect of frost flower sea salts in this work can be regarded an upper bound.

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