We scrutinize the importance of aerosol water for the aerosol optical depth (AOD) calculations using a long-term evaluation of the EQuilibrium Simplified Aerosol Model v4 for climate modeling. EQSAM4clim is based on a single solute coefficient approach that efficiently parameterizes hygroscopic growth, accounting for aerosol water uptake from the deliquescence relative humidity up to supersaturation. EQSAM4clim extends the single solute coefficient approach to treat water uptake of multicomponent mixtures. The gas–aerosol partitioning and the mixed-solution water uptake can be solved analytically, preventing the need for iterations, which is computationally efficient. EQSAM4clim has been implemented in the global chemistry climate model EMAC and compared to ISORROPIA II on climate timescales. Our global modeling results show that (I) our EMAC results of the AOD are comparable to modeling results that have been independently evaluated for the period 2000–2010, (II) the results of various aerosol properties of EQSAM4clim and ISORROPIA II are similar and in agreement with AERONET and EMEP observations for the period 2000–2013, and (III) the underlying assumptions on the aerosol water uptake limitations are important for derived AOD calculations. Sensitivity studies of different levels of chemical aging and associated water uptake show larger effects on AOD calculations for the year 2005 compared to the differences associated with the application of the two gas–liquid–solid partitioning schemes. Overall, our study demonstrates the importance of aerosol water for climate studies.