Diurnal aerosol variations do affect daily averaged radiative forcing under heavy aerosol loading observed in Hefei, China
Abstract. A strong diurnal variation of aerosol has been observed in many heavily polluted regions in China. This variation could affect the direct aerosol radiative forcing (DARF) evaluation if the daily averaged value is used as normal rather than the time-resolved values. To quantify the effect of using the daily averaged DARF, 196 days of high temporal resolution ground-based data collected in SKYNET Hefei site during the period from 2007 to 2013 is used to perform an assessment. We demonstrate that strong diurnal changes of heavy aerosol loading have an impact on the 24-h averaged DARF when daily averaged optical properties are used to retrieve this quantity. The DARF errors varying from −7.6 to 15.6 W m−2 absolutely and from 0.1 to 28.5 % relatively were found between the calculations using daily average aerosol properties, and those using time-resolved aerosol observations. These errors increase with increasing daily aerosol optical depth (AOD) and decreasing daily single-scattering albedo (SSA), indicating that the high temporal resolution DARF data set should be used in the model instead of the normal daily-averaged one, especially under heavy aerosol loading conditions for regional campaign studies. We also found that statistical errors (0.3 W m−2 absolutely and 11.8 % relatively) will be less, which means that the effect of using the daily averaged DARF can be weakened by using a long-term observational data set.