Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Publication Date
21 February 2015

Interannual to Decadal Climate Variability of Sea Salt Aerosols in the Coupled Climate Model CESM1.0



This study examines multiyear climate variability associated with sea salt aerosols and their contribution to the variability of shortwave cloud forcing (SWCF) using a 150 year simulation for preindustrial conditions of the Community Earth System Model version 1.0. The results suggest that changes in sea salt and related cloud and radiative properties on interannual timescales are dominated by the El Niño–Southern Oscillation cycle. Sea salt variability on longer (interdecadal) timescales is associated with low-frequency variability in the Pacific Ocean similar to the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation but does not show a statistically significant spectral peak. A multivariate regression suggests that sea salt aerosol variability may contribute to SWCF variability in the tropical Pacific, explaining up to 20–30% of the variance in that region. Elsewhere, there is only a small sea salt aerosol influence on SWCF through modifying cloud droplet number and liquid water path that contributes to the change of cloud effective radius and cloud optical depth (and hence cloud albedo), producing a multiyear aerosol-cloud-wind interaction.

“Interannual To Decadal Climate Variability Of Sea Salt Aerosols In The Coupled Climate Model Cesm1.0”. 2015. Journal Of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres 120: 1502-1519. doi:10.1002/2014JD022888.
Funding Program Area(s)