Non-linearity in DMS aerosol-cloud-climate interactions

MA Thomas, P Suntharalingam, L Pozzoli, A Devasthale, S Kloster, S Rast, J Feichter, TM Lenton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


The degree of non-linearity in DMS-cloud-climate interactions is assessed using the ECHAM5-HAMMOZ model by taking into account end-to-end aerosol chemistry-cloud microphysics link. The evaluation is made over the Southern oceans in austral summer, a region of minimal anthropogenic influence. In this study, we compare the DMS-derived changes in the aerosol and cloud microphysical properties between a baseline simulation with the ocean DMS emissions from a prescribed climatology, and a scenario where the DMS emissions are doubled. Our results show that doubling the DMS emissions in the current climate results in a non-linear response in atmospheric DMS burden and subsequently, in SO 2 and H2SO4 burdens due to inadequate OH oxidation. The aerosol optical depth increases by only ~20 % in the 30° S-75° S belt in the SH summer months. This increases the vertically integrated cloud droplet number concentrations (CDNC) by 25 %. Since the vertically integrated liquid water vapor is constant in our model simulations, an increase in CDNC leads to a reduction in cloud droplet radius of 3.4 % over the Southern oceans in summer. The equivalent increase in cloud liquid water path is 10.7 %. The above changes in cloud microphysical properties result in a change in global annual mean radiatve forcing at the TOA of-1.4 W m -2. The results suggest that the DMS-cloud microphysics link is highly non-linear. This has implications for future studies investigating the DMS-cloud climate feedbacks in a warming world and for studies evaluating geoengineering options to counteract warming by modulating low level marine clouds.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15227-15253
Number of pages27
JournalAtmospheric Chemistry and Physics
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Cite this