Articles | Volume 15, issue 12
Research article
18 Jun 2015
Research article |  | 18 Jun 2015

Influence of biomass aerosol on precipitation over the Central Amazon: an observational study

W. A. Gonçalves, L. A. T. Machado, and P.-E. Kirstetter

Abstract. Understanding the influence of biomass burning aerosol on clouds and precipitation in the Amazon is key to reducing uncertainties in simulations of climate change scenarios with regard to deforestation fires. Here, we associate rainfall characteristics obtained from an S-band radar in the Amazon with in situ measurements of biomass burning aerosol for the entire year of 2009. The most important results were obtained during the dry season (July–December). The results indicate that the influence of aerosol on precipitating systems is modulated by the atmospheric degree of instability. For less unstable atmospheres, the higher the aerosol concentration is, the lower the precipitation is over the region. In contrast, for more unstable cases, higher concentrations of black carbon are associated with greater precipitation, increased ice content, and larger rain cells; this finding suggests an association with long-lived systems. The results presented are statistically significant. However, due to limitations imposed by the available data set, important features, such as the contribution of each mechanism to the rainfall suppression, need further investigation. Regional climate model simulations with aircraft and radar measurements would help clarify these questions.

Final-revised paper