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Aerosol Impacts on the Diurnal Cycle of Marine Stratocumulus

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  • 1 CNRM-GAME, Météo-France, CNRS, Toulouse, France
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Abstract

Recent large-eddy simulation (LES) studies of the impact of aerosol on the dynamics of nocturnal marine stratocumulus revealed that, depending on the large-scale forcings, an aerosol-induced increase of the droplet concentration can lead to either an increase or a decrease of the liquid water path, hence contrasting with the cloud thickening that is expected from a reduction of the precipitation efficiency. In this study, the aerosol impacts on cloud microphysics are examined in the context of the boundary-layer diurnal cycle using 36-h LES simulations of pristine and polluted clouds. These simulations corroborate previous findings that during nighttime aerosol-induced liquid water path changes are sensitive to the large-scale forcings via enhancement of cloud-top entrainment such that, ultimately, the liquid water path may be reduced when the free-tropospheric-entrained air is drier. During the day, however, enhanced entrainment, inhibition of drizzle evaporation below cloud base, and reduced sensible heat flux from the surface lead to a more pronounced decoupling of the boundary layer, which significantly amplifies the liquid water path reduction of the polluted clouds. At night the sign of the liquid water path difference between pristine and polluted clouds depends upon large-scale forcings, while during the day the liquid water path of polluted clouds is always smaller than the one of the pristine clouds. Suggestions are made on how observational studies could be designed for validation of these simulations.

Corresponding author address: Irina Sandu, CNRM-GAME, Météo-France, 42 avenue G. Coriolis, 31057 Toulouse, France. Email: irina.sandu@cnrm.meteo.fr

Abstract

Recent large-eddy simulation (LES) studies of the impact of aerosol on the dynamics of nocturnal marine stratocumulus revealed that, depending on the large-scale forcings, an aerosol-induced increase of the droplet concentration can lead to either an increase or a decrease of the liquid water path, hence contrasting with the cloud thickening that is expected from a reduction of the precipitation efficiency. In this study, the aerosol impacts on cloud microphysics are examined in the context of the boundary-layer diurnal cycle using 36-h LES simulations of pristine and polluted clouds. These simulations corroborate previous findings that during nighttime aerosol-induced liquid water path changes are sensitive to the large-scale forcings via enhancement of cloud-top entrainment such that, ultimately, the liquid water path may be reduced when the free-tropospheric-entrained air is drier. During the day, however, enhanced entrainment, inhibition of drizzle evaporation below cloud base, and reduced sensible heat flux from the surface lead to a more pronounced decoupling of the boundary layer, which significantly amplifies the liquid water path reduction of the polluted clouds. At night the sign of the liquid water path difference between pristine and polluted clouds depends upon large-scale forcings, while during the day the liquid water path of polluted clouds is always smaller than the one of the pristine clouds. Suggestions are made on how observational studies could be designed for validation of these simulations.

Corresponding author address: Irina Sandu, CNRM-GAME, Météo-France, 42 avenue G. Coriolis, 31057 Toulouse, France. Email: irina.sandu@cnrm.meteo.fr

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