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Christian Barthlott
and
Corinna Hoose

Abstract

The response of clouds to changes in the aerosol concentration is complex and may differ depending on the cloud type, the aerosol regime, and environmental conditions. In this study, a novel technique is used to systematically modify the environmental conditions in realistic convection-resolving simulations for cases with weak and strong large-scale forcing over central Europe with the Consortium for Small-Scale Modeling (COSMO) model. Besides control runs with quasi-operational settings, initial and boundary temperature profiles are modified with linear increasing temperature increments from 0 to 5 K between 3 and 12 km AGL to represent different amounts of convective available potential energy (CAPE) and relative humidity. The results show a systematic decrease of total precipitation with increasing cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) concentrations for the cases with strong synoptic forcing caused by a suppressed warm-rain process, whereas no systematic aerosol effect is simulated for weak synoptic forcing. The effect of increasing CCN tends to be stronger in the simulations with increased temperatures and lower CAPE. While the large-scale domain-averaged responses to increased CCN are weak, the precipitation forming over mountainous terrain reveals a stronger sensitivity for most of the analyzed cases. Our findings also demonstrate that the role of the warm-rain process is more important for strong than for weak synoptic forcing. The aerosol effect is largest for weakly forced conditions but more predictable for the strongly forced cases. However, more accurate environmental conditions are much more important than accurate aerosol assumptions, especially for weak large-scale forcing.

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