Constraining Uncertainty in Aerosol Direct Forcing

D. Watson-Parris*, N. Bellouin, L. T. Deaconu, N. A.J. Schutgens, M. Yoshioka, L. A. Regayre, K. J. Pringle, J. S. Johnson, C. J. Smith, K. S. Carslaw, P. Stier

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The uncertainty in present-day anthropogenic forcing is dominated by uncertainty in the strength of the contribution from aerosol. Much of the uncertainty in the direct aerosol forcing can be attributed to uncertainty in the anthropogenic fraction of aerosol in the present-day atmosphere, due to a lack of historical observations. Here, we present a robust relationship between total present-day aerosol optical depth and the anthropogenic contribution across three multimodel ensembles and a large single-model perturbed parameter ensemble. Using observations of aerosol optical depth, we determine a reduced likely range of the anthropogenic component and hence a reduced uncertainty in the direct forcing of aerosol.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2020GL087141
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number9
Early online date9 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished - 16 May 2020


  • aerosol
  • forcing


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