Helicopter-borne observations with unprecedented high resolution provide new insights in the fine-scale structure of marine boundary layer clouds and aerosol stratification over the Eastern North Atlantic.
We report on the Azores stratoCumulus measurements Of Radiation, turbulEnce and aeroSols (ACORES) campaign, which took place around Graciosa and Pico Islands/Azores in July 2017. The main objective was to investigate the vertical distribution of aerosol particles, stratocumulus microphysical and radiative properties, and turbulence parameters in the Eastern North Atlantic. The vertical exchange of mass, momentum, and energy between the free troposphere (FT) and the cloudy marine boundary layer (MBL) was explored over a range of scales from sub-meters to km. To cover these spatial scales with appropriate measurements, helicopter-borne observations with unprecedented high resolution were realized using the Airborne Cloud Turbulence Observation System (ACTOS) and Spectral Modular Airborne Radiation measurement sysTem - HELIcopterborne ObservationS (SMART-HELIOS) instrumental payloads. The helicopter-borne observations were combined with ground-based aerosol measurements collected at two continuously running field stations on Pico Mountain (2225 m above sea level, in the FT), and at the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) station on Graciosa (at sea level). First findings from the ACORES observations we are discussing in the paper are: (i) We have observed a high variability of the turbulent cloud-top structure on horizontal scales below 100 m with local temperature gradients of up to 4 K over less than 1 m vertical distance; (ii) We have collected strictly collocated radiation measurements supporting the relevance of small scale processes by revealing significant inhomogeneities in cloud-top brightness temperature to scales well below 100 m; and (iii) we have concluded that aerosol properties are completely different in the MBL and FT with often-complex stratification and frequently observed burst-like new particle formation.