Impacts of the Manaus pollution plume on the microphysical properties of Amazonian warm-phase clouds in the wet season
Abstract. The remote atmosphere over the Amazon can be similar to oceanic regions in terms of aerosol conditions and cloud type formations. This is especially true during the wet season. The main aerosol-related disturbances over the Amazon have both natural sources, such as dust transport from Africa, and anthropogenic sources, such as biomass burning or urban pollution. The present work considers the impacts of the latter on the microphysical properties of warm-phase clouds by analysing observations of the interactions between the Manaus pollution plume and its surroundings, as part of the GoAmazon2014/5 Experiment. The analysed period corresponds to the wet season (specifically from February to March 2014 and corresponding to the first Intensive Operating Period (IOP1) of GoAmazon2014/5). The droplet size distributions reported are in the range 1 µm ≤ D ≤ 50 µm in order to capture the processes leading up to the precipitation formation. The wet season largely presents a clean background atmosphere characterized by frequent rain showers. As such, the contrast between background clouds and those affected by the Manaus pollution can be observed and detailed. The focus is on the characteristics of the initial microphysical properties in cumulus clouds predominantly at their early stages. The pollution-affected clouds are found to have smaller effective diameters and higher droplet number concentrations. The differences range from 10 to 40 % for the effective diameter and are as high as 1000 % for droplet concentration for the same vertical levels. The growth rates of droplets with altitude are slower for pollution-affected clouds (2.90 compared to 5.59 µm km−1), as explained by the absence of bigger droplets at the onset of cloud development. Clouds under background conditions have higher concentrations of larger droplets (> 20 µm) near the cloud base, which would contribute significantly to the growth rates through the collision–coalescence process. The overall shape of the droplet size distribution (DSD) does not appear to be predominantly determined by updraught strength, especially beyond the 20 µm range. The aerosol conditions play a major role in that case. However, the updraughts modulate the DSD concentrations and are responsible for the vertical transport of water in the cloud. The larger droplets found in background clouds are associated with weak water vapour competition and a bimodal distribution of droplet sizes in the lower levels of the cloud, which enables an earlier initiation of the collision–coalescence process. This study shows that the pollution produced by Manaus significantly affects warm-phase microphysical properties of the surrounding clouds by changing the initial DSD formation. The corresponding effects on ice-phase processes and precipitation formation will be the focus of future endeavours.