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Title: The climate impacts of atmospheric aerosols using in-situ measurements, satellite retrievals and global climate model simulations
Author: Davies, Nicholas William
Awarding Body: University of Exeter
Current Institution: University of Exeter
Date of Award: 2018
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Aerosols contribute the largest uncertainty to estimates of radiative forcing of the Earth’s atmosphere, which are thought to exert a net negative radiative forcing, offsetting a potentially significant but poorly constrained fraction of the positive radiative forcing associated with greenhouse gases. Aerosols perturb the Earth’s radiative balance directly by absorbing and scattering radiation and indirectly by acting as cloud condensation nuclei, altering cloud albedo and potentially cloud lifetime. One of the major factors governing the uncertainty in estimates of aerosol direct radiative forcing is the poorly constrained aerosol single scattering albedo, which is the ratio of the aerosol scattering to extinction. In this thesis, I describe a new instrument for the measurement of aerosol optical properties using photoacoustic and cavity ring-down spectroscopy. Characterisation is performed by assessing the instrument minimum sensitivity and accuracy as well as verifying the accuracy of its calibration procedure. The instrument and calibration accuracies are assessed by comparing modelled to measured optical properties of well-characterised laboratory-generated aerosol. I then examine biases in traditional, filter-based absorption measurements by comparing to photoacoustic spectrometer absorption measurements for a range of aerosol sources at multiple wavelengths. Filter-based measurements consistently overestimate absorption although the bias magnitude is strongly source-dependent. Biases are consistently lowest when an advanced correction scheme is applied, irrespective of wavelength or aerosol source. Lastly, I assess the sensitivity of the direct radiative effect of biomass burning aerosols to aerosol and cloud optical properties over the Southeast Atlantic Ocean using a combination of offline radiative transfer modelling, satellite observations and global climate model simulations. Although the direct radiative effect depends on aerosol and cloud optical properties in a non-linear way, it appears to be only weakly dependent on sub-grid variability.
Supervisor: Haywood, James ; Justin, Langridge Sponsor: Natural Environment Research Council ; Met Office
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Aerosols ; In-situ measurements ; Radiative forcing ; Satellite retrievals ; Global aerosol model ; Photoacoustic spectroscopy ; Cavity ring-down spectroscopy ; Tri-color absorption photometer ; Ozone calibration ; HadGEM3 ; POLDER ; SOCRATES