Articles | Volume 22, issue 5
Research article
14 Mar 2022
Research article |  | 14 Mar 2022

A strong statistical link between aerosol indirect effects and the self-similarity of rainfall distributions

Kalli Furtado and Paul Field

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Subject: Clouds and Precipitation | Research Activity: Atmospheric Modelling and Data Analysis | Altitude Range: Troposphere | Science Focus: Physics (physical properties and processes)
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Cited articles

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Albrecht, B. A.: Aerosols, cloud microphysics, and fractional cloudiness, Science, 245, 1227–1230,, 1989. a
Burton, A., Kilsby, G. G., Fowler, H. J., Cowpertwait, P .S. P. and O'Connell, P. E. RainSim: A spatial–temporal stochastic rainfall modelling system, Environ. Modell. Softw., 23, 1356–1369, 2008. a
Field, P. R. and Shutts, G. J.: Properties of normalised rain-rate distributions in the tropical Pacific, Q. J. Roy. Meteor. Soc., 135, 175–186,, 2009. a, b
Field, P. R., Hogan, R. J., Brown, P. R. A., Illingworth, A. J., Choularton, T. W., and Cotton, R. J.: Parametrization of ice-particle size distributions for mid-latitude stratiform cloud, Q. J. Roy. Meteor. Soc., 131, 1997–2017,, 2005. a
Short summary
The complex processes involved mean that no simple answer to this question has so far been discovered: do aerosols increase or decrease precipitation? Using high-resolution weather simulations, we find a self-similar property of rainfall that is not affected by aerosols. Using this invariant, we can collapse all our simulations to a single curve. So, although aerosol effects on rain are many, there may be a universal constraint on the number of degrees of freedom needed to represent them.
Final-revised paper