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A GCM study of future climate response to aerosol pollution reductions

Kloster, Silvia, Dentener, Frank, Feichter, Johann, Raes, Frank, Lohmann, Ulrike, Roeckner, Erich, Fischer-Bruns, Irene
Climate dynamics 2010 v.34 no.7-8 pp. 1177-1194
aerosols, air pollution, air quality, climate, greenhouse gas emissions, greenhouse gases, hydrologic cycle, industry, laws and regulations, models, pollution control, quality control, temperature
We use the global atmospheric GCM aerosol model ECHAM5-HAM to asses possible impacts of future air pollution mitigation strategies on climate. Air quality control strategies focus on the reduction of aerosol emissions. Here we investigate the extreme case of a maximum feasible end-of-pipe abatement of aerosols in the near term future (2030) in combination with increasing greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations. The temperature response of increasing GHG concentrations and reduced aerosol emissions leads to a global annual mean equilibrium temperature response of 2.18 K. When aerosols are maximally abated only in the Industry and Powerplant sector, while other sectors stay with currently enforced regulations, the temperature response is 1.89 K. A maximum feasible abatement applied in the Domestic and Transport sector, while other sectors remain with the current legislation, leads to a temperature response of 1.39 K. Increasing GHG concentrations alone lead to a temperature response of 1.20 K. We also simulate 2-5% increases in global mean precipitation among all scenarios considered, and the hydrological sensitivity is found to be significantly higher for aerosols than for GHGs. Our study, thus highlights the huge potential impact of future air pollution mitigation strategies on climate and supports the need for urgent GHG emission reductions. GHG and aerosol forcings are not independent as both affect and are influenced by changes in the hydrological cycle. However, within the given range of changes in aerosol emissions and GHG concentrations considered in this study, the climate response towards increasing GHG concentrations and decreasing aerosols emissions is additive.