Observations of shallow convective clouds generated by solar heating of dark smoke plumes
Abstract. The SEVIRI instrument on the Meteosat Second Generation satellite with both fine spatial and temporal resolution allows to detect and follow the dynamics of fast developing meteorological events like spreading smoke plumes and the lifecycles of convective clouds. Smoke plumes have the ability to change the atmospheric heat content due to absorption and reduced reflection of solar radiation. By these means they can trigger formation of shallow convective clouds at their edge. A heavy smoke plume emerging from burning Lebanese oil tanks and spreading over adjacent deserts on 17 July 2006 has been observed as an example of such an effect. This study suggests a physical explanation of the observed convection along the edge of the smoke plume, namely the strong thermal contrast resulting from solar heating of the smoke layer.