Articles | Volume 17, issue 4
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 17, 3133–3143, 2017

Special issue: BACCHUS – Impact of Biogenic versus Anthropogenic emissions...

Atmos. Chem. Phys., 17, 3133–3143, 2017

Research article 28 Feb 2017

Research article | 28 Feb 2017

Estimates of the aerosol indirect effect over the Baltic Sea region derived from 12 years of MODIS observations

Giulia Saponaro1, Pekka Kolmonen1, Larisa Sogacheva1, Edith Rodriguez1, Timo Virtanen1, and Gerrit de Leeuw1,2 Giulia Saponaro et al.
  • 1Finnish Meteorological Institute, Helsinki, 00560, Finland
  • 2Department of Physics, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, 00560, Finland

Abstract. Retrieved from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on-board the Aqua satellite, 12 years (2003–2014) of aerosol and cloud properties were used to statistically quantify aerosol–cloud interaction (ACI) over the Baltic Sea region, including the relatively clean Fennoscandia and the more polluted central–eastern Europe. These areas allowed us to study the effects of different aerosol types and concentrations on macro- and microphysical properties of clouds: cloud effective radius (CER), cloud fraction (CF), cloud optical thickness (COT), cloud liquid water path (LWP) and cloud-top height (CTH). Aerosol properties used are aerosol optical depth (AOD), Ångström exponent (AE) and aerosol index (AI). The study was limited to low-level water clouds in the summer.

The vertical distributions of the relationships between cloud properties and aerosols show an effect of aerosols on low-level water clouds. CF, COT, LWP and CTH tend to increase with aerosol loading, indicating changes in the cloud structure, while the effective radius of cloud droplets decreases. The ACI is larger at relatively low cloud-top levels, between 900 and 700 hPa. Most of the studied cloud variables were unaffected by the lower-tropospheric stability (LTS), except for the cloud fraction.

The spatial distribution of aerosol and cloud parameters and ACI, here defined as the change in CER as a function of aerosol concentration for a fixed LWP, shows positive and statistically significant ACI over the Baltic Sea and Fennoscandia, with the former having the largest values. Small negative ACI values are observed in central–eastern Europe, suggesting that large aerosol concentrations saturate the ACI.

Short summary
The effect of aerosol upon cloud properties is studied over the Baltic Sea region, which presents a distinct contrast of aerosol loading between the clean Fennoscandia and the polluted area of central–eastern Europe. Statistically significant positive values are found over the Baltic Sea and Fennoscandia, while negative values are found over central–eastern Europe, contradicting the theory of aerosol indirect effect on clouds.
Final-revised paper