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A new perspective on solar dimming over the Tibetan Plateau

Journal article
Authors Changgui Lin
Huanping Wu
Tinghai Ou
Deliang Chen
Published in International Journal of Climatology
Volume 39
Issue 1
Pages 302-316
ISSN 0899-8418
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Earth Sciences
Pages 302-316
Language en
Keywords direct and diffuse radiation, extinction processes, Tibetan Plateau
Subject categories Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences, Climate Research


© 2018 Royal Meteorological Society Solar radiation changes (dimming/brightening) have recently received growing attention within the research community, although there is currently no generally accepted explanation. This article aims to provide a new perspective for identifying the reasons behind solar dimming/brightening by using long-term measurements of direct and diffuse solar radiation, unlike previous studies which have focused on global solar radiation. We postulate that extinction processes can be more readily revealed by direct and diffuse radiation measurements with the help of a modelling tool that treats the two components separately. An example is presented for Golmud and Lhasa in the northern and southern Tibetan Plateau (TP) respectively, over the period 1957–2013. The following is found: (a) ground-based observed cloud cover alone hardly explains the observed solar dimming at the two sites; (b) both the cloud-free direct radiation transmittivity (τdir) and diffuse radiation proportion (pdif) declined; (c) variations in pdifare overwhelmingly dominated by variations in aerosols, while those in τdirare related to variations in both aerosol and water vapour; (d) on top of the suggested reduced aerosol concentrations, decreased snow cover can partly explain declined diffuse radiation via lowered surface albedo; (e) the decline in τdircan be partly attributed to the wetting atmosphere via strengthened absorption; and (f) the impact of volcanic eruptions was also identified from such radiative parameters, lasting into the following summer and especially strong in the southern TP.

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