Developing and diagnosing climate change indicators of regional aerosol optical properties
Given the importance of aerosol particles to radiative transfer via aerosol-radiation interactions, a methodology for tracking and diagnosing causes of temporal changes in regional-scale aerosol populations is illustrated. The aerosol optical properties tracked include estimates of total columnar burden (aerosol optical depth, AOD), dominant size mode (Ångström exponent, AE), and relative magnitude of radiation scattering versus absorption (single scattering albedo, SSA), along with metrics of the structure of the spatial feld of these properties. Over well-defned regions of North America, there are generally negative temporal trends in mean and extreme AOD, and SSA. These are consistent with lower aerosol burdens and transition towards a relatively absorbing aerosol, driven primarily by declining sulfur dioxide emissions.