The signal of aerosol-induced changes in sunshine duration records: A review of the evidence

Aerosols play a significant yet complex and central role in the Earth's radiation budget, and knowledge of long-term changes in the atmospheric turbidity induced by aerosols is therefore fundamental for a better understanding of climate change. However, there is little available information on changes in aerosol concentration in the atmosphere, especially prior to the 1980s. The present paper reviews publications reporting the suitability of sunshine duration records with regard to detecting changes in atmospheric aerosols. Some of the studies reviewed propose methods for estimating aerosol-related magnitudes, such as turbidity, from sunshine deficit at approximately sunrise and sunset, when the impact of aerosols on the solar beam is more easily observed. In addition, there is abundant evidence that one cause of the decadal changes observed in sunshine duration records involves variations in atmospheric aerosol loading. Possible directions for future research are also suggested: in particular, detailed studies of the burn (not only its length but also its width) registered by means of Campbell-Stokes sunshine recorders may provide a way of creating time series of atmospheric aerosol loading metrics dating back to over 120years from the present ​
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