Current Projects‎ > ‎

Improving the Representation of Sulfate Aerosols Over the Southern Ocean in the NZESM

Atmospheric aerosols affect Earth’s radiative balance, yet constitute one of the largest sources of uncertainty in model simulations of the Earth’s energy budget and climate. 

Uncertainties in aerosols cascade to uncertainties in cloud formation, absorption of shortwave radiation by the ocean, and atmospheric circulation. Incorrect representation of aerosols over the Southern Ocean in the New Zealand Earth System Model (NZESM) reduces confidence in projections of climate change for New Zealand. In the current version of the NZESM, sulfate aerosol formation processes are either simplified, or driven by outdated information. 

This project will improve the representation of sulfate aerosols over the Southern Ocean in the NZESM by better understanding the largest source of natural sulfate aerosols in the troposphere i.e. dimethyl sulfide (DMS). We will improve the representation of DMS oxidation in the NZESM, implement an up-to-date global DMS climatology as forcing data, and explore the role that sea ice plays in blocking oceanic emission of DMS. 

Improving the representation of sulfate aerosol production in the NZESM will ultimately provide more reliable simulations of New Zealand’s climate. 

For further information about this project, please also see here.