Reducing black carbon (BC), i.e. soot, in the atmosphere is a potential mitigation measure for climate change before revealing the effect of reducing anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) because BC with shorter lifetime than CO 2 absorbs solar and infrared radiation. BC has a strong positive radiative forcing in the atmosphere, as indicated in many previous studies. Here, we show that the decline in surface air temperatures with reduced BC emissions is weaker than would be expected from the magnitude of its instantaneous radiative forcing at the top of the atmosphere (TOA). Climate simulations show that the global mean change in surface air temperature per unit of instantaneous radiative forcing of BC at the TOA is about one-eighth that of sulphate aerosols, which cool the climate through scattering solar radiation, without absorption. This is attributed to the positive radiation budget of BC being largely compensated for by rapid atmospheric adjustment, whereas the radiative imbalance due to sulphate aerosols drives a slow response of climate over a long timescale. Regional climate responses to short-lived species are shown to exhibit even more complex characteristics due to their heterogeneous spatial distributions, requiring further analysis in future studies.
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