Combined observational and modeling based study of the aerosol indirect effect
Abstract. The indirect effect of aerosols via liquid clouds is investigated by comparing aerosol and cloud characteristics from the Global Climate Model CAM-Oslo to those observed by the MODIS instrument onboard the TERRA and AQUA satellites http://modis.gsfc.nasa.gov). The comparison is carried out for 15 selected regions ranging from remote and clean to densely populated and polluted. For each region, the regression coefficient and correlation coefficient for the following parameters are calculated: Aerosol Optical Depth vs. Liquid Cloud Optical Thickness, Aerosol Optical Depth vs. Liquid Cloud Droplet Effective Radius and Aerosol Optical Depth vs. Cloud Liquid Water Path. Modeled and observed correlation coefficients and regression coefficients are then compared for a 3-year period starting in January 2001. Additionally, global maps for a number of aerosol and cloud parameters crucial for the understanding of the aerosol indirect effect are compared for the same period of time. Significant differences are found between MODIS and CAM-Oslo both in the regional and global comparison. However, both the model and the observations show a positive correlation between Aerosol Optical Depth and Cloud Optical Depth in practically all regions and for all seasons, in agreement with the current understanding of aerosol-cloud interactions. The correlation between Aerosol Optical Depth and Liquid Cloud Droplet Effective Radius is variable both in the model and the observations. However, the model reports the expected negative correlation more often than the MODIS data. Aerosol Optical Depth is overall positively correlated to Cloud Liquid Water Path both in the model and the observations, with a few regional exceptions.