Drivers of solar radiation variability in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica

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© 2018 The Author(s). Annually averaged solar radiation in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica has varied by over 20 W m-2 during the past three decades; however, the drivers of this variability are unknown. Because small differences in radiation are important to water availability and ecosystem functioning in polar deserts, determining the causes are important to predictions of future desert processes. We examine the potential drivers of solar variability and systematically eliminate all but stratospheric sulfur dioxide. We argue that increases in stratospheric sulfur dioxide increase stratospheric aerosol optical depth and decrease solar intensity. Because of the polar location of the McMurdo Dry Valleys (77-78°S) and relatively long solar ray path through the stratosphere, terrestrial solar intensity is sensitive to small differences in stratospheric transmissivity. Important sources of sulfur dioxide include natural (wildfires and volcanic eruptions) and anthropogenic emission.

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Scientific Reports

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