The Role of Aerosols in the Evolution of Tropical North Atlantic Ocean Temperature

Observations and models show that northern tropical Atlantic surface temperatures are sensitive to regional changes in stratospheric volcanic and tropospheric mineral aerosols. However, it is unknown whether the temporal variability of these aerosols is a key factor in the evolution of ocean temperature anomalies. We used a simple physical model, incorporating 26 years of satellite data, to estimate the temperature response of the ocean mixed layer to changes in aerosol loadings. Our results suggest that the mixed layer’s response to regional variability in aerosols accounts for 69% of the recent upward trend, and 67% of the detrended and 5-year low pass–filtered variance, in northern tropical Atlantic Ocean temperatures.

Evan, A. T., D. J. Vimont, R. Bennartz, J. P. Kossin and A. K. Heidinger (2009) The role of aerosols in the evolution of tropical North Atlantic Ocean temperature, Science, Vol. 324. no. 5928, pp. 778 - 781, doi:10.1126/science.1167404.