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Impact of Two-Way Aerosol–Cloud Interaction and Changes in Aerosol Size Distribution on Simulated Aerosol-Induced Deep Convective Cloud Sensitivity

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  • 1 Department of Meteorology, and Bert Bolin Center for Climate Research, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
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Abstract

Recent cloud-resolving model studies of single (isolated) deep convective clouds have shown contradicting results regarding the response of the deep convection to changes in the aerosol concentration. In the present study, a cloud-resolving model including explicit aerosol physics and chemistry is used to examine how the complexity of the aerosol model, the size of the aerosols, and the aerosol activation parameterization influence the aerosol-induced deep convective cloud sensitivity. Six sensitivity series are conducted. A significant difference in the aerosol-induced deep convective cloud sensitivity is found when using different complexities of the aerosol model and different aerosol activation parameterizations. In particular, graupel impaction scavenging of aerosols appears to be a crucial process because it efficiently may limit the number of cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) at a critical stage of cloud development and thereby dampen the convection. For the simulated case, a 100% increase in aerosol concentration results in a difference in average updraft between the various sensitivity series that is as large as the average updraft increase itself. The change in graupel and rain formation also differs significantly. The sign of the change in precipitation is not always directly proportional to the change in updraft velocity and several of the sensitivity series display a decrease of the rain amount with increasing updraft velocity. This result illustrates the need to account for changes in evaporation processes and subsequent cooling when assessing aerosol effects on deep convective strength. The model simulations also show that an increased number of aerosols in the Aitken mode (here defined by 23 ≤ d ≤ 100.0 nm) results in a larger impact on the convective strength compared to an increased number of aerosols in the accumulation mode (here defined by 100 ≤ d ≤ 900.0 nm). When accumulation mode aerosols are activated and grow at the beginning of the cloud cycle, the supersaturation near the cloud base is lowered, which to some extent limits further aerosol activation. The simulations indicate a need to better understand and represent the two-way interaction between aerosols and clouds when studying aerosol-induced deep convective cloud sensitivity.

Corresponding author address: A. Ekman, Department of Meteorology, Stockholm University, SE-10691 Stockholm, Sweden. E-mail: annica@misu.su.se

Abstract

Recent cloud-resolving model studies of single (isolated) deep convective clouds have shown contradicting results regarding the response of the deep convection to changes in the aerosol concentration. In the present study, a cloud-resolving model including explicit aerosol physics and chemistry is used to examine how the complexity of the aerosol model, the size of the aerosols, and the aerosol activation parameterization influence the aerosol-induced deep convective cloud sensitivity. Six sensitivity series are conducted. A significant difference in the aerosol-induced deep convective cloud sensitivity is found when using different complexities of the aerosol model and different aerosol activation parameterizations. In particular, graupel impaction scavenging of aerosols appears to be a crucial process because it efficiently may limit the number of cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) at a critical stage of cloud development and thereby dampen the convection. For the simulated case, a 100% increase in aerosol concentration results in a difference in average updraft between the various sensitivity series that is as large as the average updraft increase itself. The change in graupel and rain formation also differs significantly. The sign of the change in precipitation is not always directly proportional to the change in updraft velocity and several of the sensitivity series display a decrease of the rain amount with increasing updraft velocity. This result illustrates the need to account for changes in evaporation processes and subsequent cooling when assessing aerosol effects on deep convective strength. The model simulations also show that an increased number of aerosols in the Aitken mode (here defined by 23 ≤ d ≤ 100.0 nm) results in a larger impact on the convective strength compared to an increased number of aerosols in the accumulation mode (here defined by 100 ≤ d ≤ 900.0 nm). When accumulation mode aerosols are activated and grow at the beginning of the cloud cycle, the supersaturation near the cloud base is lowered, which to some extent limits further aerosol activation. The simulations indicate a need to better understand and represent the two-way interaction between aerosols and clouds when studying aerosol-induced deep convective cloud sensitivity.

Corresponding author address: A. Ekman, Department of Meteorology, Stockholm University, SE-10691 Stockholm, Sweden. E-mail: annica@misu.su.se
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