Articles | Volume 11, issue 2
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 11, 873–892, 2011
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 11, 873–892, 2011

Research article 31 Jan 2011

Research article | 31 Jan 2011

An integrated modeling study on the effects of mineral dust and sea salt particles on clouds and precipitation

S. Solomos1, G. Kallos1, J. Kushta1, M. Astitha2,1, C. Tremback3, A. Nenes4,5, and Z. Levin6 S. Solomos et al.
  • 1University of Athens, School of Physics, University of Athens Campus, Bldg. Phys-5, 15784 Athens, Greece
  • 2Energy, Environment and Water Research Centre, The Cyprus Institute, Nicosia, Cyprus, Greece
  • 3ATMET LLC P.O. Box 19195, Boulder, CO 80308-2195, USA
  • 4School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, USA
  • 5School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Georgia Institute of Technology, USA
  • 6Dept. of Geophysics and Planetary Sciences, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel

Abstract. This report addresses the effects of pollution on the development of precipitation in clean ("pristine") and polluted ("hazy") environments in the Eastern Mediterranean by using the Integrated Community Limited Area Modeling System (ICLAMS) (an extended version of the Regional Atmospheric Modeling System, RAMS). The use of this model allows one to investigate the interactions of the aerosols with cloud development. The simulations show that the onset of precipitation in hazy clouds is delayed compared to pristine conditions. Adding small concentrations of GCCN to polluted clouds promotes early-stage rain. The addition of GCCN to pristine clouds has no effect on precipitation amounts. Topography was found to be more important for the distribution of precipitation than aerosol properties. Increasing by 15% the concentration of hygroscopic dust particles for a case study over the Eastern Mediterranean resulted in more vigorous convection and more intense updrafts. The clouds that were formed extended about three kilometers higher, delaying the initiation of precipitation by one hour. Prognostic treatment of the aerosol concentrations in the explicit cloud droplet nucleation scheme of the model, improved the model performance for the twenty-four hour accumulated precipitation. The spatial distribution and the amounts of precipitation were found to vary greatly between the different aerosol scenarios. These results indicate the large uncertainty that remains and the need for more accurate description of aerosol feedbacks in atmospheric models and climate change predictions.

Final-revised paper