Time series of visibility and aerosol optical thickness for the Netherlands have been constructed for 1956-2100 based on observations and aerosol mass scenarios. Aerosol optical thickness from 1956 to 2013 has been reconstructed by converting time series of visibility to visible extinction which in turn are converted to aerosol optical thickness using an appropriate scaling depth. The reconstruction compares closely with remote sensing observations of aerosol optical thickness between 1960 and 2013. It appears that aerosol optical thickness was relatively constant over the Netherlands in the years 1955-1985. After 1985, visibility has improved, while at the same time aerosol optical thickness has decreased. Based on aerosol emission scenarios for the Netherlands three aerosol types have been identified: (1) a constant background consisting of sea salt and mineral dust, (2) a hydrophilic anthropogenic inorganic mixture, and (3) a partly hydrophobic mixture of black carbon (BC) and organic aerosols (OAs). A reduction in overall aerosol concentration turns out to be the most influential factor in the reduction in aerosol optical thickness. But during 1956-1985, an upward trend in hydrophilic aerosols and associated upward trend in optical extinction has partly compensated the overall reduction in optical extinction due to the reduction in less hydrophilic BC and OAs. A constant optical thickness ensues. This feature highlights the influence of aerosol hygroscopicity on time-varying signatures of atmospheric optical properties. Within the hydrophilic inorganic aerosol mixture there is a gradual shift from sulfur-based (1956-1985) to a nitrogen-based water aerosol chemistry (1990 onwards) but always modulated by the continual input of sodium from sea salt. From 2013 to 2100, visibility is expected to continue its increase, while at the same time optical thickness is foreseen to continue to decrease. The contribution of the hydrophilic mixture to the aerosol optical thickness will increase from 30% to 35% in 1956 to more than 70% in 2100. At the same time the contribution of black and organic aerosols will decrease by more than 80%.
Boers, Van Weele, Van Meijgaard, Savenije, Siebesma, Bosveld, Stammes. Observations and projections of visibility and aerosol optical thickness (1956-2100) in the Netherlands: impacts of time-varying aerosol composition and hygroscopicity
published, Environmental Research Letters, 2015, 10