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The Advanced Study Program 2013-14 Seminar Series continues with a seminar presented by Dr. Phil Rasch of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Problems and prospects for improved representation of aerosol impacts in climate models.
Aerosols are ubiquitous in the atmosphere, and play many roles in the climate system, scattering and absorbing light, acting as nuclei for liquid and ice particle formation (important to clouds properties), acting as sites for photochemistry and as delivery agents for nutrients to biological systems. A substantial fraction of aerosols are of anthropogenic origin. Aerosols have been identified variously as: 1) one of the most uncertain factors in historical climate change, increasing uncertainty about Earth's sensitivity to greenhouse gas concentration changes, and 2) as "uncertain then, irrelevant now". In this talk I will review some of the reasons why aerosol impacts are so difficult to characterize, some recent attempts to improve their treatment in climate models, discuss a few studies my group has been involved in recently, and close contending that aerosols are "uncertain then, but not irrelevant now".