Effects of aerosol–radiation interaction on precipitation during biomass-burning season in East China
Abstract. Biomass burning is a main source for primary carbonaceous particles in the atmosphere and acts as a crucial factor that alters Earth's energy budget and balance. It is also an important factor influencing air quality, regional climate and sustainability in the domain of Pan-Eurasian Experiment (PEEX). During the exceptionally intense agricultural fire season in mid-June 2012, accompanied by rapidly deteriorating air quality, a series of meteorological anomalies was observed, including a large decline in near-surface air temperature, spatial shifts and changes in precipitation in Jiangsu province of East China. To explore the underlying processes that link air pollution to weather modification, we conducted a numerical study with parallel simulations using the fully coupled meteorology–chemistry model WRF-Chem with a high-resolution emission inventory for agricultural fires. Evaluation of the modeling results with available ground-based measurements and satellite retrievals showed that this model was able to reproduce the magnitude and spatial variations of fire-induced air pollution. During the biomass-burning event in mid-June 2012, intensive emission of absorbing aerosols trapped a considerable part of solar radiation in the atmosphere and reduced incident radiation reaching the surface on a regional scale, followed by lowered surface sensible and latent heat fluxes. The perturbed energy balance and re-allocation gave rise to substantial adjustments in vertical temperature stratification, namely surface cooling and upper-air heating. Furthermore, an intimate link between temperature profile and small-scale processes like turbulent mixing and entrainment led to distinct changes in precipitation. On the one hand, by stabilizing the atmosphere below and reducing the surface flux, black carbon-laden plumes tended to dissipate daytime cloud and suppress the convective precipitation over Nanjing. On the other hand, heating aloft increased upper-level convective activity and then favored convergence carrying in moist air, thereby enhancing the nocturnal precipitation in the downwind areas of the biomass-burning plumes.