Articles | Volume 11, issue 9
Research article
06 May 2011
Research article |  | 06 May 2011

Manipulating marine stratocumulus cloud amount and albedo: a process-modelling study of aerosol-cloud-precipitation interactions in response to injection of cloud condensation nuclei

H. Wang, P. J. Rasch, and G. Feingold

Abstract. We use a cloud-system-resolving model to study marine-cloud brightening. We examine how injected aerosol particles that act as cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) are transported within the marine boundary layer and how the additional particles in clouds impact cloud microphysical processes, and feedback on dynamics. Results show that the effectiveness of cloud brightening depends strongly on meteorological and background aerosol conditions. Cloud albedo enhancement is very effective in a weakly precipitating boundary layer and in CCN-limited conditions preceded by heavy and/or persistent precipitation. The additional CCN help sustain cloud water by weakening the precipitation substantially in the former case and preventing the boundary layer from collapse in the latter. For a given amount of injected CCN, the injection method (i.e., number and distribution of sprayers) is critical to the spatial distribution of these CCN. Both the areal coverage and the number concentration of injected particles are key players but neither one always emerges as more important than the other. The same amount of injected material is much less effective in either strongly precipitating clouds or polluted clouds, and it is ineffective in a relatively dry boundary layer that supports clouds of low liquid water path. In the polluted case and "dry" case, the CCN injection increases drop number concentration but lowers supersaturation and liquid water path. As a result, the cloud experiences very weak albedo enhancement, regardless of the injection method.

Final-revised paper