Articles | Volume 27, issue 10
23 Oct 2009
 | 23 Oct 2009

Sensitivity of boreal-summer circulation and precipitation to atmospheric aerosols in selected regions &ndash Part 2: The Americas

E. M. Wilcox, Y. C. Sud, and G. Walker

Abstract. Aerosol perturbations over selected land regions are imposed in Version-4 of the Goddard Earth Observing System (GEOS-4) general circulation model (GCM) to assess the influence of increasing aerosol concentrations on regional circulation patterns and precipitation in four selected regions: India, Africa, and North and South America. Part 1 of this paper addresses the responses to aerosol perturbations in India and Africa. This paper presents the same for aerosol perturbations over the Americas. GEOS-4 is forced with prescribed aerosols based on climatological data, which interact with clouds using a prognostic scheme for cloud microphysics including aerosol nucleation of water and ice cloud hydrometeors. In clear-sky conditions the aerosols interact with radiation. Thus the model includes comprehensive physics describing the aerosol direct and indirect effects on climate (hereafter ADE and AIE respectively). Each simulation is started from analyzed initial conditions for 1 May and was integrated through June-July-August of each of the six years: 1982–1987 to provide a 6-ensemble set. Results are presented for the difference between simulations with double the climatological aerosol concentration and one-half the climatological aerosol concentration for three experiments: two where the ADE and AIE are applied separately and one in which both the ADE and AIE are applied. The ADE and AIE both yield reductions in net radiation at the top of the atmosphere and surface while the direct absorption of shortwave radiation contributes a net radiative heating in the atmosphere. A large net heating of the atmosphere is also apparent over the subtropical North Atlantic Ocean that is attributable to the large aerosol perturbation imposed over Africa. This atmospheric warming and the depression of the surface pressure over North America contribute to a northward shift of the inter-Tropical Convergence Zone over northern South America, an increase in precipitation over Central America and the Caribbean, and an enhancement of convergence in the North American monsoon region.