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Indications of a Decrease in the Depth of Deep Convective Cores with Increasing Aerosol Concentration during the CACTI Campaign

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  • 1 aDepartment of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • | 2 bPacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, Washington
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Abstract

An aerosol indirect effect on deep convective cores (DCCs), by which increasing aerosol concentration increases cloud-top height via enhanced latent heating and updraft velocity, has been proposed in many studies. However, the magnitude of this effect remains uncertain due to aerosol measurement limitations, modulation of the effect by meteorological conditions, and difficulties untangling meteorological and aerosol effects on DCCs. The Cloud, Aerosol, and Complex Terrain Interactions (CACTI) campaign in 2018–19 produced concentrated aerosol and cloud observations in a location with frequent DCCs, providing an opportunity to examine the proposed aerosol indirect effect on DCC depth in a rigorous and robust manner. For periods throughout the campaign with well-mixed boundary layers, we analyze relationships that exist between aerosol variables (condensation nuclei concentration > 10 nm, 0.4% cloud condensation nuclei concentration, 55–1000-nm aerosol concentration, and aerosol optical depth) and meteorological variables [level of neutral buoyancy (LNB), convective available potential energy, midlevel relative humidity, and deep-layer vertical wind shear] with the maximum radar-echo-top height and cloud-top temperature (CTT) of DCCs. Meteorological variables such as LNB and deep-layer shear are strongly correlated with DCC depth. LNB is also highly correlated with three of the aerosol variables. After accounting for meteorological correlations, increasing values of the aerosol variables [with the exception of one formulation of aerosol optical depth (AOD)] are generally correlated at a statistically significant level with a warmer CTT of DCCs. Therefore, for the study region and period considered, increasing aerosol concentration is mostly associated with a decrease in DCC depth.

© 2022 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

This article is included in the RELAMPAGO-CACTI Special Collection.

Corresponding author: Peter G. Veals, peter.veals@utah.edu

Abstract

An aerosol indirect effect on deep convective cores (DCCs), by which increasing aerosol concentration increases cloud-top height via enhanced latent heating and updraft velocity, has been proposed in many studies. However, the magnitude of this effect remains uncertain due to aerosol measurement limitations, modulation of the effect by meteorological conditions, and difficulties untangling meteorological and aerosol effects on DCCs. The Cloud, Aerosol, and Complex Terrain Interactions (CACTI) campaign in 2018–19 produced concentrated aerosol and cloud observations in a location with frequent DCCs, providing an opportunity to examine the proposed aerosol indirect effect on DCC depth in a rigorous and robust manner. For periods throughout the campaign with well-mixed boundary layers, we analyze relationships that exist between aerosol variables (condensation nuclei concentration > 10 nm, 0.4% cloud condensation nuclei concentration, 55–1000-nm aerosol concentration, and aerosol optical depth) and meteorological variables [level of neutral buoyancy (LNB), convective available potential energy, midlevel relative humidity, and deep-layer vertical wind shear] with the maximum radar-echo-top height and cloud-top temperature (CTT) of DCCs. Meteorological variables such as LNB and deep-layer shear are strongly correlated with DCC depth. LNB is also highly correlated with three of the aerosol variables. After accounting for meteorological correlations, increasing values of the aerosol variables [with the exception of one formulation of aerosol optical depth (AOD)] are generally correlated at a statistically significant level with a warmer CTT of DCCs. Therefore, for the study region and period considered, increasing aerosol concentration is mostly associated with a decrease in DCC depth.

© 2022 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

This article is included in the RELAMPAGO-CACTI Special Collection.

Corresponding author: Peter G. Veals, peter.veals@utah.edu
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