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Wilcox, EM, Thomas RM, Praveen PS, Pistone K, Bender FAM, Ramanathan V.  2016.  Black carbon solar absorption suppresses turbulence in the atmospheric boundary layer. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 113:11794-11799.   10.1073/pnas.1525746113   AbstractWebsite

The introduction of cloud condensation nuclei and radiative heating by sunlight-absorbing aerosols can modify the thickness and coverage of low clouds, yielding significant radiative forcing of climate. The magnitude and sign of changes in cloud coverage and depth in response to changing aerosols are impacted by turbulent dynamics of the cloudy atmosphere, but integrated measurements of aerosol solar absorption and turbulent fluxes have not been reported thus far. Here we report such integrated measurements made from unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) during the CARDEX (Cloud Aerosol Radiative Forcing and Dynamics Experiment) investigation conducted over the northern Indian Ocean. The UAV and surface data reveal a reduction in turbulent kinetic energy in the surface mixed layer at the base of the atmosphere concurrent with an increase in absorbing black carbon aerosols. Polluted conditions coincide with a warmer and shallower surface mixed layer because of aerosol radiative heating and reduced turbulence. The polluted surface mixed layer was also observed to be more humid with higher relative humidity. Greater humidity enhances cloud development, as evidenced by polluted clouds that penetrate higher above the top of the surface mixed layer. Reduced entrainment of dry air into the surface layer from above the inversion capping the surface mixed layer, due to weaker turbulence, may contribute to higher relative humidity in the surface layer during polluted conditions. Measurements of turbulence are important for studies of aerosol effects on clouds. Moreover, reduced turbulence can exacerbate both the human health impacts of high concentrations of fine particles and conditions favorable for low-visibility fog events.

Pistone, K, Praveen PS, Thomas RM, Ramanathan V, Wilcox EM, Bender FAM.  2016.  Observed correlations between aerosol and cloud properties in an Indian Ocean trade cumulus regime. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics. 16:5203-5227.   10.5194/acp-16-5203-2016   AbstractWebsite

There are many contributing factors which determine the micro- and macrophysical properties of clouds, including atmospheric vertical structure, dominant meteorological conditions, and aerosol concentration, all of which may be coupled to one another. In the quest to determine aerosol effects on clouds, these potential relationships must be understood. Here we describe several observed correlations between aerosol conditions and cloud and atmospheric properties in the Indian Ocean winter monsoon season. In the CARDEX (Cloud, Aerosol, Radiative forcing, Dynamics EXperiment) field campaign conducted in February and March 2012 in the northern Indian Ocean, continuous measurements were made of atmospheric precipitable water vapor (PWV) and the liquid water path (LWP) of trade cumulus clouds, concurrent with measurements of water vapor flux, cloud and aerosol vertical profiles, meteorological data, and surface and total-column aerosol from instrumentation at a ground observatory and on small unmanned aircraft. We present observations which indicate a positive correlation between aerosol and cloud LWP only when considering cases with low atmospheric water vapor (PWV < 40aEuro-kg m(-2)), a criterion which acts to filter the data to control for the natural meteorological variability in the region. We then use the aircraft and ground-based measurements to explore possible mechanisms behind this observed aerosol-LWP correlation. The increase in cloud liquid water is found to coincide with a lowering of the cloud base, which is itself attributable to increased boundary layer humidity in polluted conditions. High pollution is found to correlate with both higher temperatures and higher humidity measured throughout the boundary layer. A large-scale analysis, using satellite observations and meteorological reanalysis, corroborates these covariations: high-pollution cases are shown to originate as a highly polluted boundary layer air mass approaching the observatory from a northwesterly direction. The source air mass exhibits both higher temperatures and higher humidity in the polluted cases. While the warmer temperatures may be attributable to aerosol absorption of solar radiation over the subcontinent, the factors responsible for the coincident high humidity are less evident: the high-aerosol conditions are observed to disperse with air mass evolution, along with a weakening of the high-temperature anomaly, while the high-humidity condition is observed to strengthen in magnitude as the polluted air mass moves over the ocean toward the site of the CARDEX observations. Potential causal mechanisms of the observed correlations, including meteorological or aerosol-induced factors, are explored, though future research will be needed for a more complete and quantitative understanding of the aerosol-humidity relationship.

Seinfeld, JH, Bretherton C, Carslaw KS, Coe H, DeMott PJ, Dunlea EJ, Feingold G, Ghan S, Guenther AB, Kahn R, Kraucunas I, Kreidenweis SM, Molina MJ, Nenes A, Penner JE, Prather KA, Ramanathan V, Ramaswamy V, Rasch PJ, Ravishankara AR, Rosenfeld D, Stephens G, Wood R.  2016.  Improving our fundamental understanding of the role of aerosol-cloud interactions in the climate system. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 113:5781-5790.   10.1073/pnas.1514043113   AbstractWebsite

The effect of an increase in atmospheric aerosol concentrations on the distribution and radiative properties of Earth's clouds is the most uncertain component of the overall global radiative forcing from preindustrial time. General circulation models (GCMs) are the tool for predicting future climate, but the treatment of aerosols, clouds, and aerosol-cloud radiative effects carries large uncertainties that directly affect GCM predictions, such as climate sensitivity. Predictions are hampered by the large range of scales of interaction between various components that need to be captured. Observation systems (remote sensing, in situ) are increasingly being used to constrain predictions, but significant challenges exist, to some extent because of the large range of scales and the fact that the various measuring systems tend to address different scales. Fine-scale models represent clouds, aerosols, and aerosol-cloud interactions with high fidelity but do not include interactions with the larger scale and are therefore limited from a climatic point of view. We suggest strategies for improving estimates of aerosol-cloud relationships in climate models, for new remote sensing and in situ measurements, and for quantifying and reducing model uncertainty.

Xu, Y, Ramanathan V, Washington WM.  2016.  Observed high-altitude warming and snow cover retreat over Tibet and the Himalayas enhanced by black carbon aerosols. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics. 16:1303-1315.   10.5194/acp-16-1303-2016   AbstractWebsite

Himalayan mountain glaciers and the snowpack over the Tibetan Plateau provide the headwater of several major rivers in Asia. In situ observations of snow cover extent since the 1960s suggest that the snowpack in the region have retreated significantly, accompanied by a surface warming of 2-2.5 degrees C observed over the peak altitudes (5000 m). Using a high-resolution ocean-atmosphere global climate model and an observationally constrained black carbon (BC) aerosol forcing, we attribute the observed altitude dependence of the warming trends as well as the spatial pattern of reductions in snow depths and snow cover extent to various anthropogenic factors. At the Tibetan Plateau altitudes, the increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration exerted a warming of 1.7 degrees C, BC 1.3 degrees C where as cooling aerosols cause about 0.7 degrees C cooling, bringing the net simulated warming consistent with the anomalously large observed warming. We therefore conclude that BC together with CO2 has contributed to the snow retreat trends. In particular, BC increase is the major factor in the strong elevation dependence of the observed surface warming. The atmospheric warming by BC as well as its surface darkening of snow is coupled with the positive snow albedo feedbacks to account for the disproportionately large role of BC in high-elevation regions. These findings reveal that BC impact needs to be properly accounted for in future regional climate projections, in particular on high-altitude cryosphere.

Hopner, F, Bender FAM, Ekman AML, Praveen PS, Bosch C, Ogren JA, Andersson A, Gustafsson O, Ramanathan V.  2016.  Vertical profiles of optical and microphysical particle properties above the northern Indian Ocean during CARDEX 2012. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics. 16:1045-1064.   10.5194/acp-16-1045-2016   AbstractWebsite

A detailed analysis of optical and microphysical properties of aerosol particles during the dry winter monsoon season above the northern Indian Ocean is presented. The Cloud Aerosol Radiative Forcing Experiment (CARDEX), conducted from 16 February to 30 March 2012 at the Maldives Climate Observatory on Hanimaadhoo island (MCOH) in the Republic of the Maldives, used autonomous unmanned aerial vehicles (AUAV) to perform vertical in situ measurements of particle number concentration, particle number size distribution as well as particle absorption coefficients. These measurements were used together with surface-based Mini Micro Pulse Lidar (MiniMPL) observations and aerosol in situ and off-line measurements to investigate the vertical distribution of aerosol particles. Air masses were mainly advected over the Indian subcontinent and the Arabian Peninsula. The mean surface aerosol number concentration was 1717 +/- 604cm(-3) and the highest values were found in air masses from the Bay of Bengal and Indo-Gangetic Plain (2247 +/- 370cm(-3)). Investigations of the free tropospheric air showed that elevated aerosol layers with up to 3 times higher aerosol number concentrations than at the surface occurred mainly during periods with air masses originating from the Bay of Bengal and the Indo-Gangetic Plain. This feature is different compared to what was observed during the Indian Ocean Experiment (INDOEX) conducted in winter 1999, where aerosol number concentrations generally decreased with height. In contrast, lower particle absorption at the surface (sigma(abs)(520nm) = 8.5 + 4.2Wm(-1)) was found during CARDEX compared to INDOEX 1999. Layers with source region specific single-scattering albedo (SSA) values were derived by combining vertical in situ particle absorption coefficients and scattering coefficients calculated with Mie theory. These SSA layers were utilized to calculate vertical particle absorption profiles from MiniMPL profiles. SSA surface values for 550 nm for dry conditions were found to be 0 : 94 +/- 0 : 02 and 0 : 91 +/- 0 : 02 for air masses from the Arabian Sea (and Middle East countries) and India (and Bay of Bengal), respectively. Lidar-derived particle absorption coefficient profiles showed both a similar magnitude and structure as the in situ profiles measured with the AUAV. However, primarily due to insufficient accuracy in the SSA estimates, the lidar-derived absorption coefficient profiles have large uncertainties and are generally weakly correlated to vertically in situ measured particle absorption coefficients. Furthermore, the mass absorption efficiency (MAE) for the northern Indian Ocean during the dry monsoon season was calculated to determine equivalent black carbon (EBC) concentrations from particle absorption coefficient measurements. A mean MAE of 11.6 and 6.9m(2) g(-1) for 520 and 880 nm, respectively, was found, likely representing internally mixed BC containing particles. Lower MAE values for 880 and 520 nm were found for air masses originating from dust regions such as the Arabian Peninsula and western Asia (MAE(880 nm) = 5.6m(2) g(-1), MAE(520 nm) = 9.5m(2) g(-1)) or from closer source regions as southern India (MAE(880 nm) = 4.3m(2) g(-1), MAE(520 nm) = 7. 3m(2) g(-1)).

Jeuland, MA, Bhojvaid V, Kar A, Lewis JJ, Patange O, Pattanayak SK, Ramanathan N, Rehman IH, Soo JST, Ramanathan V.  2015.  Preferences for improved cook stoves: Evidence from rural villages in north India. Energy Economics. 52:287-298.   10.1016/j.eneco.2015.11.010   AbstractWebsite

Because emissions from solid fuel burning in traditional stoves impact global climate change, the regional environment, and household health, there is today real interest in improved cook stoves (ICS). Nonetheless, surprisingly little is known about what households like about these energy products. We report on preferences for biomass-burning ICS attributes in a large sample of 2120 rural households in north India, a global hotspot for biomass fuel use and the damages that such use entails. Households have a strong baseline reliance and preference for traditional stoves, a preference that outweighs the $10 and $5 willingness to pay (WTP) for realistic (33%) reductions in smoke emissions and fuel needs on average, respectively. Preferences for stove attributes are also highly varied, and correlated with a number of household characteristics (e.g. expenditures, gender of household head, patience and risk preferences). These results suggest that households exhibit cautious interest in some aspects of ICS, but that widespread adoption is unlikely because many households appear to prefer traditional stoves over ICS with similar characteristics. The policy community must therefore support a reinvigorated supply chain with complementary infrastructure investments, foster experimentation with products, encourage continued applied research and knowledge generation, and provide appropriate incentives to consumers, if ICS distribution is to be scaled up. (C) 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Patange, OS, Ramanathan N, Rehman IH, Tripathi SN, Misra A, Kar A, Graham E, Singh L, Bahadur R, Ramanathan V.  2015.  Reductions in indoor black carbon concentrations from improved biomass stoves in rural India. Environmental Science & Technology. 49:4749-4756.   10.1021/es506208x   AbstractWebsite
Sambandam, S, Balakrishnan K, Ghosh S, Sadasivam A, Madhav S, Ramasamy R, Samanta M, Mukhopadhyay K, Rehman H, Ramanathan V.  2015.  Can currently available advanced combustion biomass cook-stoves provide health relevant exposure reductions? Results from initial assessment of select commercial models in india Ecohealth. 12:25-41.   10.1007/s10393-014-0976-1   AbstractWebsite

Household air pollution from use of solid fuels is a major contributor to the national burden of disease in India. Currently available models of advanced combustion biomass cook-stoves (ACS) report significantly higher efficiencies and lower emissions in the laboratory when compared to traditional cook-stoves, but relatively little is known about household level exposure reductions, achieved under routine conditions of use. We report results from initial field assessments of six commercial ACS models from the states of Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh in India. We monitored 72 households (divided into six arms to each receive an ACS model) for 24-h kitchen area concentrations of PM2.5 and CO before and (1-6 months) after installation of the new stove together with detailed information on fixed and time-varying household characteristics. Detailed surveys collected information on user perceptions regarding acceptability for routine use. While the median percent reductions in 24-h PM2.5 and CO concentrations ranged from 2 to 71% and 10-66%, respectively, concentrations consistently exceeded WHO air quality guideline values across all models raising questions regarding the health relevance of such reductions. Most models were perceived to be sub-optimally designed for routine use often resulting in inappropriate and inadequate levels of use. Household concentration reductions also run the risk of being compromised by high ambient backgrounds from community level solid-fuel use and contributions from surrounding fossil fuel sources. Results indicate that achieving health relevant exposure reductions in solid-fuel using households will require integration of emissions reductions with ease of use and adoption at community scale, in cook-stove technologies. Imminent efforts are also needed to accelerate the progress towards cleaner fuels.

Steffen, W, Richardson K, Rockstrom J, Cornell SE, Fetzer I, Bennett EM, Biggs R, Carpenter SR, de Vries W, de Wit CA, Folke C, Gerten D, Heinke J, Mace GM, Persson LM, Ramanathan V, Reyers B, Sorlin S.  2015.  Planetary boundaries: Guiding human development on a changing planet. Science. 347:736-+.   10.1126/science.1259855   AbstractWebsite

The planetary boundaries framework defines a safe operating space for humanity based on the intrinsic biophysical processes that regulate the stability of the Earth system. Here, we revise and update the planetary boundary framework, with a focus on the underpinning biophysical science, based on targeted input from expert research communities and on more general scientific advances over the past 5 years. Several of the boundaries now have a two-tier approach, reflecting the importance of cross-scale interactions and the regional-level heterogeneity of the processes that underpin the boundaries. Two core boundaries-climate change and biosphere integrity-have been identified, each of which has the potential on its own to drive the Earth system into a new state should they be substantially and persistently transgressed.

Burney, J, Ramanathan V.  2014.  Recent climate and air pollution impacts on Indian agriculture. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 111:16319-16324.   10.1073/pnas.1317275111   AbstractWebsite

Recent research on the agricultural impacts of climate change has primarily focused on the roles of temperature and precipitation. These studies show that India has already been negatively affected by recent climate trends. However, anthropogenic climate changes are a result of both global emissions of long-lived greenhouse gases (LLGHGs) and other short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs). Two potent SLCPs, tropospheric ozone and black carbon, have direct effects on crop yields beyond their indirect effects through climate; emissions of black carbon and ozone precursors have risen dramatically in India over the past three decades. Here, to our knowledge for the first time, we present results of the combined effects of climate change and the direct effects of SLCPs on wheat and rice yields in India from 1980 to 2010. Our statistical model suggests that, averaged over India, yields in 2010 were up to 36% lower for wheat than they otherwise would have been, absent climate and pollutant emissions trends, with some densely populated states experiencing 50% relative yield losses. [Our point estimates for rice (−20%) are similarly large, but not statistically significant.] Upper-bound estimates suggest that an overwhelming fraction (90%) of these losses is due to the direct effects of SLCPs. Gains from addressing regional air pollution could thus counter expected future yield losses resulting from direct climate change effects of LLGHGs.

Bosch, C, Andersson A, Kirillova EN, Budhavant K, Tiwari S, Praveen PS, Russell LM, Beres ND, Ramanathan V, Gustafsson O.  2014.  Source-diagnostic dual-isotope composition and optical properties of water-soluble organic carbon and elemental carbon in the South Asian outflow intercepted over the Indian Ocean. Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres. 119:11743-11759.   10.1002/2014jd022127   AbstractWebsite

The dual carbon isotope signatures and optical properties of carbonaceous aerosols have been investigated simultaneously for the first time in the South Asian outflow during an intensive campaign at the Maldives Climate Observatory on Hanimaadhoo (MCOH) (February and March 2012). As one component of the Cloud Aerosol Radiative Forcing Dynamics Experiment, this paper reports on the sources and the atmospheric processing of elemental carbon (EC) and water-soluble organic carbon (WSOC) as examined by a dual carbon isotope approach. The radiocarbon (C-14) data show that WSOC has a significantly higher biomass/biogenic contribution (865%) compared to EC (594%). The more C-13-enriched signature of MCOH-WSOC (-20.80.7) compared to MCOH-EC (-25.8 +/- 0.3 parts per thousand) and megacity Delhi WSOC (-24.1 +/- 0.9 parts per thousand) suggests that WSOC is significantly more affected by aging during long-range transport than EC. The C-13-C-14 signal suggests that the wintertime WSOC intercepted over the Indian Ocean largely represents aged primary biomass burning aerosols. Since light-absorbing organic carbon aerosols (Brown Carbon (BrC)) have recently been identified as potential contributors to positive radiative forcing, optical properties of WSOC were also investigated. The mass absorption cross section of WSOC (MAC(365)) was 0.5 +/- 0.2 m(2)g(-1) which is lower than what has been observed at near-source sites, indicating a net decrease of WSOC light-absorption character during long-range transport. Near-surface WSOC at MCOH accounted for similar to 1% of the total direct solar absorbance relative to EC, which is lower than the BrC absorption inferred from solar spectral observations of ambient aerosols, suggesting that a significant portion of BrC might be included in the water-insoluble portion of organic aerosols.

Ghude, SD, Jena C, Chate DM, Beig G, Pfister GG, Kumar R, Ramanathan V.  2014.  Reductions in India's crop yield due to ozone. Geophysical Research Letters. 41   10.1002/2014GL060930   Abstract

This bottom-up modeling study, supported by emission inventories and crop production, simulates ozone on local to regional scales. It quantifies, for the first time, potential impact of ozone on district-wise cotton, soybeans, rice, and wheat crops in India for the first decade of the 21st century. Wheat is the most impacted crop with losses of 3.5 ± 0.8 million tons (Mt), followed by rice at 2.1 ± 0.8 Mt, with the losses concentrated in central and north India. On the national scale, this loss is about 9.2% of the cereals required every year (61.2 Mt) under the provision of the recently implemented National Food Security Bill (in 2013) by the Government of India. The nationally aggregated yield loss is sufficient to feed about 94 million people living below poverty line in India.

Pistone, K, Eisenman I, Ramanathan V.  2014.  Observational determination of albedo decrease caused by vanishing Arctic sea ice. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 111:3322-3326.   10.1073/pnas.1318201111   AbstractWebsite

The decline of Arctic sea ice has been documented in over 30 y of satellite passive microwave observations. The resulting darkening of the Arctic and its amplification of global warming was hypothesized almost 50 y ago but has yet to be verified with direct observations. This study uses satellite radiation budget measurements along with satellite microwave sea ice data to document the Arctic-wide decrease in planetary albedo and its amplifying effect on the warming. The analysis reveals a striking relationship between planetary albedo and sea ice cover, quantities inferred from two independent satellite instruments. We find that the Arctic planetary albedo has decreased from 0.52 to 0.48 between 1979 and 2011, corresponding to an additional 6.4 +/- 0.9 W/m(2) of solar energy input into the Arctic Ocean region since 1979. Averaged over the globe, this albedo decrease corresponds to a forcing that is 25% as large as that due to the change in CO2 during this period, considerably larger than expectations from models and other less direct recent estimates. Changes in cloudiness appear to play a negligible role in observed Arctic darkening, thus reducing the possibility of Arctic cloud albedo feedbacks mitigating future Arctic warming.

Bhojvaid, V, Jeuland M, Kar A, Lewis JJ, Pattanayak SK, Ramanathan N, Ramanathan V, Rehman IH.  2014.  How do people in rural India perceive improved stoves and clean fuel? Evidence from Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 11:1341-1358.   10.3390/ijerph110201341   AbstractWebsite

Improved cook stoves (ICS) have been widely touted for their potential to deliver the triple benefits of improved household health and time savings, reduced deforestation and local environmental degradation, and reduced emissions of black carbon, a significant short-term contributor to global climate change. Yet diffusion of ICS technologies among potential users in many low-income settings, including India, remains slow, despite decades of promotion. This paper explores the variation in perceptions of and preferences for ICS in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, as revealed through a series of semi-structured focus groups and interviews from 11 rural villages or hamlets. We find cautious interest in new ICS technologies, and observe that preferences for ICS are positively related to perceptions of health and time savings. Other respondent and community characteristics, e. g., gender, education, prior experience with clean stoves and institutions promoting similar technologies, and social norms as perceived through the actions of neighbours, also appear important. Though they cannot be considered representative, our results suggest that efforts to increase adoption and use of ICS in rural India will likely require a combination of supply-chain improvements and carefully designed social marketing and promotion campaigns, and possibly incentives, to reduce the up-front cost of stoves.

Feng, Y, Ramanathan V, Kotamarthi VR.  2013.  Brown carbon: A significant atmospheric absorber of solar radiation? Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics. 13:8607-8621.   10.5194/acp-13-8607-2013   AbstractWebsite

Several recent observational studies have shown organic carbon aerosols to be a significant source of absorption of solar radiation. The absorbing part of organic aerosols is referred to as "brown" carbon (BrC). Using a global chemical transport model and a radiative transfer model, we estimate for the first time the enhanced absorption of solar radiation due to BrC in a global model. The simulated wavelength dependence of aerosol absorption, as measured by the absorption Angstrolm exponent (AAE), increases from 0.9 for non-absorbing organic carbon to 1.2 (1.0) for strongly (moderately) absorbing BrC. The calculated AAE for the strongly absorbing BrC agrees with AERONET spectral observations at 440-870 nm over most regions but overpredicts for the biomass burning-dominated South America and southern Africa, in which the inclusion of moderately absorbing BrC has better agreement. The resulting aerosol absorption optical depth increases by 18% (3 %) at 550 nm and 56% (38 %) at 380 nm for strongly (moderately) absorbing BrC. The global simulations suggest that the strongly absorbing BrC contributes up to +0.25 Wm(-2) or 19% of the absorption by anthropogenic aerosols, while 72% is attributed to black carbon, and 9% is due to sulfate and non-absorbing organic aerosols coated on black carbon. Like black carbon, the absorption of BrC (moderately to strongly) inserts a warming effect at the top of the atmosphere (TOA) (0.04 to 0.11 Wm(-2)), while the effect at the surface is a reduction (-0.06 to -0.14 Wm(-2)). Inclusion of the strongly absorption of BrC in our model causes the direct radiative forcing (global mean) of organic carbon aerosols at the TOA to change from cooling (-0.08 Wm(-2)) to warming (+0.025 Wm(-2)). Over source regions and above clouds, the absorption of BrC is higher and thus can play an important role in photochemistry and the hydrologic cycle.

Cazorla, A, Bahadur R, Suski KJ, Cahill JF, Chand D, Schmid B, Ramanathan V, Prather KA.  2013.  Relating aerosol absorption due to soot, organic carbon, and dust to emission sources determined from in-situ chemical measurements. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics. 13:9337-9350.   10.5194/acp-13-9337-2013   AbstractWebsite

Estimating the aerosol contribution to the global or regional radiative forcing can take advantage of the relationship between the spectral aerosol optical properties and the size and chemical composition of aerosol. Long term global optical measurements from observational networks or satellites can be used in such studies. Using in-situ chemical mixing state measurements can help us to constrain the limitations of such estimates. In this study, the Absorption Angstrom Exponent (AAE) and the Scattering Angstrom Exponent (SAE) derived from 10 operational AERONET sites in California are combined for deducing chemical speciation based on wavelength dependence of the optical properties. In addition, in-situ optical properties and single particle chemical composition measured during three aircraft field campaigns in California between 2010 and 2011 are combined in order to validate the methodology used for the estimates of aerosol chemistry using spectral optical properties. Results from this study indicate a dominance of mixed types in the classification leading to an underestimation of the primary sources, however secondary sources are better classified. The distinction between carbonaceous aerosols from fossil fuel and biomass burning origins is not clear, since their optical properties are similar. On the other hand, knowledge of the aerosol sources in California from chemical studies help to identify other misclassification such as the dust contribution.

Hu, AX, Xu YY, Tebaldi C, Washington WM, Ramanathan V.  2013.  Mitigation of short-lived climate pollutants slows sea-level rise. Nature Climate Change. 3:730-734.   10.1038/nclimate1869   AbstractWebsite

Under present growth rates of greenhouse gas and black carbon aerosol emissions, global mean temperatures can warm by as much as 2 degrees C from pre-industrial temperatures by about 2050(1,2). Mitigation of the four short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs), methane, tropospheric ozone, hydrofluorocarbons and black carbon, has been shown to reduce the warming trend by about 50% (refs 1,2) by 2050. Here we focus on the potential impact of this SLCP mitigation on global sea-level rise (SLR). The temperature projections under various SLCP scenarios simulated by an energy-balance climate model(1) are integrated with a semi-empirical SLR model(3), derived from past trends in temperatures and SLR, to simulate future trends in SLR. A coupled ocean-atmosphere climate model(4) is also used to estimate SLR trends due to just the ocean thermal expansion. Our results show that SLCP mitigation can have significant effects on SLR. It can decrease the SLR rate by 24-50% and reduce the cumulative SLR by 22-42% by 2100. If the SLCP mitigation is delayed by 25 years, the warming from pre-industrial temperature exceeds 2 degrees C by 2050 and the impact of mitigation actions on SLR is reduced by about a third.

Xu, Y, Zaelke D, Velders GJM, Ramanathan V.  2013.  The role of HFCs in mitigating 21st century climate change. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics. 13:6083-6089.   10.5194/acp-13-6083-2013   AbstractWebsite

There is growing international interest in mitigating climate change during the early part of this century by reducing emissions of short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs), in addition to reducing emissions of CO2. The SLCPs include methane (CH4), black carbon aerosols (BC), tropospheric ozone (O-3) and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). Recent studies have estimated that by mitigating emissions of CH4, BC, and O-3 using available technologies, about 0.5 to 0.6 degrees C warming can be avoided by mid-21st century. Here we show that avoiding production and use of high-GWP (global warming potential) HFCs by using technologically feasible low-GWP substitutes to meet the increasing global demand can avoid as much as another 0.5 degrees C warming by the end of the century. This combined mitigation of SLCPs would cut the cumulative warming since 2005 by 50% at 2050 and by 60% at 2100 from the CO2-only mitigation scenarios, significantly reducing the rate of warming and lowering the probability of exceeding the 2 degrees C warming threshold during this century.

Anenberg, SC, Balakrishnan K, Jetter J, Masera O, Mehta S, Moss J, Ramanathan V.  2013.  Cleaner cooking solutions to achieve health, climate, and economic cobenefits. Environmental Science & Technology. 47:3944-3952.   10.1021/es304942e   AbstractWebsite
Bahadur, R, Praveen PS, Xu YY, Ramanathan V.  2012.  Solar absorption by elemental and brown carbon determined from spectral observations. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 109:17366-17371.   10.1073/pnas.1205910109   AbstractWebsite

Black carbon (BC) is functionally defined as the absorbing component of atmospheric total carbonaceous aerosols (TC) and is typically dominated by soot-like elemental carbon (EC). However, organic carbon (OC) has also been shown to absorb strongly at visible to UV wavelengths and the absorbing organics are referred to as brown carbon (BrC), which is typically not represented in climate models. We propose an observationally based analytical method for rigorously partitioning measured absorption aerosol optical depths (AAOD) and single scattering albedo (SSA) among EC and BrC, using multiwavelength measurements of total (EC, OC, and dust) absorption. EC is found to be strongly absorbing (SSA of 0.38) whereas the BrC SSA varies globally between 0.77 and 0.85. The method is applied to the California region. We find TC (EC + BrC) contributes 81% of the total absorption at 675 nm and 84% at 440 nm. The BrC absorption at 440 nm is about 40% of the EC, whereas at 675 nm it is less than 10% of EC. We find an enhanced absorption due to OC in the summer months and in southern California (related to forest fires and secondary OC). The fractions and trends are broadly consistent with aerosol chemical-transport models as well as with regional emission inventories, implying that we have obtained a representative estimate for BrC absorption. The results demonstrate that current climate models that treat OC as nonabsorbing are underestimating the total warming effect of carbonaceous aerosols by neglecting part of the atmospheric heating, particularly over biomass-burning regions that emit BrC.

Bender, FAM, Ramanathan V, Tselioudis G.  2012.  Changes in extratropical storm track cloudiness 1983-2008: observational support for a poleward shift. Climate Dynamics. 38:2037-2053.   10.1007/s00382-011-1065-6   AbstractWebsite

Climate model simulations suggest that the extratropical storm tracks will shift poleward as a consequence of global warming. In this study the northern and southern hemisphere storm tracks over the Pacific and Atlantic ocean basins are studied using observational data, primarily from the International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project, ISCCP. Potential shifts in the storm tracks are examined using the observed cloud structures as proxies for cyclone activity. Different data analysis methods are employed, with the objective to address difficulties and uncertainties in using ISCCP data for regional trend analysis. In particular, three data filtering techniques are explored; excluding specific problematic regions from the analysis, regressing out a spurious viewing geometry effect, and excluding specific cloud types from the analysis. These adjustments all, to varying degree, moderate the cloud trends in the original data but leave the qualitative aspects of those trends largely unaffected. Therefore, our analysis suggests that ISCCP data can be used to interpret regional trends in cloudiness, provided that data and instrumental artefacts are recognized and accounted for. The variation in magnitude between trends emerging from application of different data correction methods, allows us to estimate possible ranges for the observational changes. It is found that the storm tracks, here represented by the extent of the midlatitude-centered band of maximum cloud cover over the studied ocean basins, experience a poleward shift as well as a narrowing over the 25 year period covered by ISCCP. The observed magnitudes of these effects are larger than in current generation climate models (CMIP3). The magnitude of the shift is particularly large in the northern hemisphere Atlantic. This is also the one of the four regions in which imperfect data primarily prevents us from drawing firm conclusions. The shifted path and reduced extent of the storm track cloudiness is accompanied by a regional reduction in total cloud cover. This decrease in cloudiness can primarily be ascribed to low level clouds, whereas the upper level cloud fraction actually increases, according to ISCCP. Independent satellite observations of radiative fluxes at the top of the atmosphere are consistent with the changes in total cloud cover. The shift in cloudiness is also supported by a shift in central position of the mid-troposphere meridional temperature gradient. We do not find support for aerosols playing a significant role in the satellite observed changes in cloudiness. The observed changes in storm track cloudiness can be related to local cloud-induced changes in radiative forcing, using ERBE and CERES radiative fluxes. The shortwave and the longwave components are found to act together, leading to a positive (warming) net radiative effect in response to the cloud changes in the storm track regions, indicative of positive cloud feedback. Among the CMIP3 models that simulate poleward shifts in all four storm track areas, all but one show decreasing cloud amount on a global mean scale in response to increased CO2 forcing, further consistent with positive cloud feedback. Models with low equilibrium climate sensitivity to a lesser extent than higher-sensitivity models simulate a poleward shift of the storm tracks.

Auffhammer, M, Ramanathan V, Vincent JR.  2012.  Climate change, the monsoon, and rice yield in India. Climatic Change. 111:411-424.   10.1007/s10584-011-0208-4   AbstractWebsite

Recent research indicates that monsoon rainfall became less frequent but more intense in India during the latter half of the Twentieth Century, thus increasing the risk of drought and flood damage to the country's wet-season (kharif) rice crop. Our statistical analysis of state-level Indian data confirms that drought and extreme rainfall negatively affected rice yield (harvest per hectare) in predominantly rainfed areas during 1966-2002, with drought having a much greater impact than extreme rainfall. Using Monte Carlo simulation, we find that yield would have been 1.7% higher on average if monsoon characteristics, especially drought frequency, had not changed since 1960. Yield would have received an additional boost of nearly 4% if two other meteorological changes (warmer nights and lower rainfall at the end of the growing season) had not occurred. In combination, these changes would have increased cumulative harvest during 1966-2002 by an amount equivalent to about a fifth of the increase caused by improvements in farming technology. Climate change has evidently already negatively affected India's hundreds of millions of rice producers and consumers.

Kar, A, Rehman IH, Burney J, Puppala SP, Suresh R, Singh L, Singh VK, Ahmed T, Ramanathan N, Ramanathan V.  2012.  Real-time assessment of black carbon pollution in Indian households due to traditional and improved biomass cookstoves. Environmental Science & Technology. 46:2993-3000.   10.1021/es203388g   AbstractWebsite

Use of improved (biomass) cookstoves (ICs) has been widely proposed as a Black Carbon (BC) mitigation measure with significant climate and health benefits. ICs encompass a range of technologies, including natural draft (ND) stoves, which feature structural modifications to enhance air flow, and forced draft (FD) stoves, which additionally employ an external fan to force air into the combustion chamber. We present here, under Project Surya, the first real-time in situ Black Carbon (BC) concentration measurements from five commercial ICs and a traditional (mud) cookstove for comparison. These experiments reveal four significant findings about the tested stoves. First, FD stoves emerge as the superior IC technology, reducing plume zone BC concentration by a factor of 4 (compared to 1.5 for ND). Indoor cooking-time BC concentrations, which varied from 50 to 1000 mu g m(-3) for the traditional mud cookstove, were reduced to 5-100 mu g m(-3) by the top-performing FD stove. Second, BC reductions from IC models in the same technology category vary significantly: for example, some ND models occasionally emit more BC than a traditional cookstove. Within the ND class, only microgasification stoves were effective in reducing BC. Third, BC concentration varies significantly for repeated cooking cycles with same stove (standard deviation up to 50% of mean concentration) even in a standardized setup, highlighting inherent uncertainties in cookstove performance. Fourth, use of mixed fuel (reflective of local practices) increases plume zone BC concentration (compared to hardwood) by a factor of 2 to 3 across ICs.

Anenberg, SC, Schwartz J, Shindell D, Amann M, Faluvegi G, Klimont Z, Janssens-Maenhout G, Pozzoli L, Van Dingenen R, Vignati E, Emberson L, Muller NZ, West JJ, Williams M, Demkine V, Hicks WK, Kuylenstierna J, Raes F, Ramanathan V.  2012.  Global air quality and health co-benefits of mitigating near-term climate change through methane and black carbon emission controls. Environmental Health Perspectives. 120:831-839.   10.1289/ehp.1104301   AbstractWebsite

BACKGROUND: Tropospheric ozone and black carbon (BC), a component of fine particulate matter (PM <= 2.5 mu m in aerodynamic diameter; PM2.5), are associated with premature mortality and they disrupt global and regional climate. OBJECTIVES: We examined the air quality and health benefits of 14 specific emission control measures targeting BC and methane, an ozone precursor, that were selected because of their potential to reduce the rate of climate change over the next 20-40 years. METHODS: We simulated the impacts of mitigation measures on outdoor concentrations of PM2.5 and ozone using two composition-climate models, and calculated associated changes in premature PM2.5- and ozone-related deaths using epidemiologically derived concentration-response functions. RESULTS: We estimated that, for PM2.5 and ozone, respectively, fully implementing these measures could reduce global population-weighted average surface concentrations by 23-34% and 7-17% and avoid 0.6-4.4 and 0.04-0.52 million annual premature deaths globally in 2030. More than 80% of the health bene-fits are estimated to occur in Asia. We estimated that BC mitigation measures would achieve approximately 98% of the deaths that would be avoided if all BC and methane mitigation measures were implemented, due to reduced BC and associated reductions of non-methane ozone precursor and organic carbon emissions as well as stronger mortality relationships for PM2.5 relative to ozone. Although subject to large uncertainty, these estimates and conclusions are not strongly dependent on assumptions for the concentration-response function. CONCLUSIONS: In addition to climate benefits, our findings indicate that the methane and BC emission control measures would have substantial co-benefits for air quality and public health worldwide, potentially reversing trends of increasing air pollution concentrations and mortality in Africa and South, West, and Central Asia. These projected benefits are independent of carbon dioxide mitigation measures. Benefits of BC measures are under-estimated because we did not account for benefits from reduced indoor exposures and because outdoor exposure estimates were limited by model spatial resolution.

Xu, YY, Ramanathan V.  2012.  Latitudinally asymmetric response of global surface temperature: Implications for regional climate change. Geophysical Research Letters. 39   10.1029/2012gl052116   AbstractWebsite

The Earth's climate system was subject to two multidecadal warming trends in the beginning (1910-1940) and end (1975-2005) of the 20th century, having been interrupted only by a cooling trend in mid-century (1940-1975). The spatio-temporal distribution of surface temperature during this time, especially the land-ocean warming contrast in recent decades, has been the subject of many climate change detection studies. The focus of this study is the south-to-north warming asymmetry and we observed a similar Latitudinal Asymmetry of Temperature Change (LATC) for the two warming sub-periods and the cooling sub-period. Basically, the temperature change was low in the Southern Hemisphere extra-tropics (60 degrees S) and increased monotonically to peak values (0.15 degrees C/decade for warming trends) in the Northern Hemisphere extra-tropics (60 degrees N). We hypothesized that the LATC is a fundamental characteristic of the planet's transient response to global forcing. We tested this hypothesis using climate model simulations of CO2 and aerosol forcing, and the simulations revealed very similar LATC as seen in the observations. In the simulations, the LATC did not depend on the asymmetry of the forcing and furthermore weakened significantly in equilibrium simulations, leading to the deduction that the LATC was caused by a corresponding asymmetry in the land-ocean fraction, i.e., the analyses of model simulations supported the hypothesis of LATC being a fundamental characteristic of the planet's transient response. If LATC is preserved as the planet warms beyond 2 degrees C, precipitation patterns can be drastically disrupted in the tropics and sub-tropics, with major implications for regional climate. Citation: Xu, Y., and V. Ramanathan (2012), Latitudinally asymmetric response of global surface temperature: Implications for regional climate change, Geophys. Res. Lett., 39, L13706, doi:10.1029/2012GL052116.