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Mares Barekzai
and
Bernhard Mayer

Abstract

Despite impressive advances in rain forecasts over the past decades, our understanding of rain formation on a microphysical scale is still poor. Droplet growth initially occurs through diffusion and, for sufficiently large radii, through the collision of droplets. However, there is no consensus on the mechanism to bridge the condensation coalescence bottleneck. We extend the analysis of prior methods by including radiatively enhanced diffusional growth (RAD) to a Markovian turbulence parameterization. This addition increases the diffusional growth efficiency by allowing for emission and absorption of thermal radiation. Specifically, we quantify an upper estimate for the radiative effect by focusing on droplets close to the cloud boundary. The strength of this simple model is that it determines growth-rate dependencies on a number of parameters, like updraft speed and the radiative effect, in a deterministic way. Realistic calculations with a cloud-resolving model are sensitive to parameter changes, which may cause completely different cloud realizations and thus it requires considerable computational power to obtain statistically significant results. The simulations suggest that the addition of radiative cooling can lead to a doubling of the droplet size standard deviation. However, the magnitude of the increase depends strongly on the broadening established by turbulence, due to an increase in the maximum droplet size, which accelerates the production of drizzle. Furthermore, the broadening caused by the combination of turbulence and thermal radiation is largest for small updrafts and the impact of radiation increases with time until it becomes dominant for slow synoptic updrafts.

Free access
Fabian Hoffmann
,
Bernhard Mayer
, and
Graham Feingold

Abstract

Marine cloud brightening (MCB) is a geoengineering approach to counteract climate change by the deliberate seeding of sea salt aerosol particles that, once they activated to cloud droplets, directly increase cloud reflectance and hence global albedo. However, a large fraction of the seeded aerosol may remain interstitial, i.e., unactivated particles among cloud droplets. Because the consideration of interstitial aerosol optical properties usually requires computationally expensive simulations of the entire particle spectrum and direct Mie calculations, we develop a simple parameterization to be used with computationally efficient bulk and even bin cloud microphysical schemes that do not treat the unactivated aerosol explicitly. Using parcel and large-eddy simulations with highly detailed Lagrangian cloud microphysics and direct Mie calculations as a reference, we show that the parameterization captures the variability in the interstitial aerosol extinction successfully. By applying the parameterization to typical MCB cases, we find that the consideration of interstitial aerosol extinction is important for the assessment of MCB in shallow clouds with weak updrafts, in which only a small fraction of aerosol particles is activated to cloud droplets.

Significance Statement

The optical properties of clouds are not only determined by the number and size of cloud droplets. Unactivated aerosol particles, so-called interstitial aerosol, can contribute substantially to the optical thickness of shallow clouds with weak updrafts in aerosol-laden conditions. The consideration of interstitial aerosol optical thickness has been computationally challenging, but the new parameterization presented here allows for an efficient representation in various types of cloud models. The parameterization is shown to be an important addition for the assessment of marine cloud brightening (MCB), a potential geoengineering technique to counteract global warming by increasing the cloud albedo through the deliberate seeding of aerosol.

Restricted access
Linda Forster
,
Claudia Emde
,
Bernhard Mayer
, and
Simon Unterstrasser

Abstract

Estimates of the global radiative forcing (RF) of line-shaped contrails and contrail cirrus exhibit a high level of uncertainty. In most cases, 1D radiative models have been used to determine the RF on a global scale. In this paper the effect of neglecting the 3D radiative effects of realistic contrails is quantified. Calculating the 3D effects of an idealized elliptical contrail as in the work of Gounou and Hogan with the 3D radiative transfer model MYSTIC (for “Monte Carlo code for the physically correct tracing of photons in cloudy atmospheres”) produced comparable results: as in Gounou and Hogan’s work the 3D effect (i.e., the difference in RF between a 3D calculation and a 1D approximation) on contrail RF was on the order of 10% in the longwave and shortwave. The net 3D effect, however, can be much larger, since the shortwave and longwave RF largely cancel during the day. For the investigation of the 3D effects of more realistic contrails, the microphysical input was provided by simulations of a 2D contrail-to-cirrus large-eddy simulation (LES) model. To capture some of the real variability in contrail properties, this paper examines two contrail evolutions from 20 min up to 6 h in an environment with either high or no vertical wind shear. This study reveals that the 3D effects show a high variability under realistic conditions since they depend strongly on the optical properties and the evolutionary state of the contrails. The differences are especially large for low elevations of the sun and contrails spreading in a sheared environment. Thus, a parameterization of the 3D effects in climate models would need to consider both geometry and microphysics of the contrail.

Full access
Linda Forster
,
Claudia Emde
,
Simon Unterstrasser
, and
Bernhard Mayer
Full access
Linda Forster
,
Anthony B. Davis
,
David J. Diner
, and
Bernhard Mayer

Abstract

For passive satellite imagers, current retrievals of cloud optical thickness and effective particle size fail for convective clouds with 3D morphology. Indeed, being based on 1D radiative transfer (RT) theory, they work well only for horizontally homogeneous clouds. A promising approach for treating clouds as fully 3D objects is cloud tomography, which has been demonstrated for airborne observations. However, more efficient forward 3D RT solvers are required for cloud tomography from space. Here, we present a path forward by acknowledging that optically thick clouds have “veiled cores” (VCs). Sunlight scattered into and out of this deep region does not contribute significant information about the inner structure of the cloud to the spatially detailed imagery. We investigate the VC location for the MISR and MODIS imagers. While MISR provides multiangle imagery in the visible and near-infrared (IR), MODIS includes channels in the shortwave IR, albeit at a single view angle. This combination will enable future 3D retrievals to disentangle the cloud’s effective particle size and extinction fields. We find that, in practice, the VC is located at an optical distance of ~5, starting from the cloud boundary along the line of sight. For MODIS’s absorbing wavelengths the VC covers a larger volume, starting at smaller optical distances. This concept will not only lead to a reduction in the number of unknowns for the tomographic reconstruction but also significantly increase the speed and efficiency of the 3D RT solver at the heart of the algorithm by applying, say, the photon diffusion approximation inside the VC.

Open access