Reconstruction of long-term aerosol optical depth series with sunshine duration records

We report the suitability of sunshine duration (SD) records as a proxy for the reconstruction of atmospheric aerosol content, for which little information exists, especially prior to the 1980s. Specifically, we have treated cloudless summer days in 16 stations throughout Spain. For almost all sites we find statistically significant relationships between aerosol optical depth (AOD), and daily SD. The correlation coefficient presents a mean value of −0.72, and slope values of the linear regressions are within the range [−0.11, −0.36]. The relationships are used to generate AOD series back to the 1960s (to the 1920s for Madrid). These reconstructed series show an increase in AOD from the mid-1960s to the 1980s, followed by a decrease until the present, in agreement with changes in anthropogenic aerosol emissions and with opposite trends of solar irradiance. The method can be used to reconstruct AOD from the late 19th century at many stations worldwide ​
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