AERONET, a network of well calibrated sunphotometers, provides data on aerosol optical depth and absorption optical depth at >250 sites around the world. The spectral range of AERONET allows discrimination between constituents that absorb most strongly in the UV region, such as soil dust and organic carbon, and the more ubiquitously absorbing black carbon (BC). AERONET locations, primarily continental, are not representative of the global mean, but they can be used to calibrate global aerosol climatologies produced by tracer transport models. We find that the amount of BC in current climatologies must be increased by a factor of 2-4 to yield best agreement with AERONET, in the approximation in which BC is externally mixed with other aerosols. The inferred climate forcing by BC, regardless of whether it is internally or externally mixed, is approximate to1 W/m(2), most of which is probably anthropogenic. This positive forcing (warming) by BC must substantially counterbalance cooling by anthropogenic reflective aerosols. Thus, especially if reflective aerosols such as sulfates are reduced, it is important to reduce BC to minimize global warming.
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