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© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  31 Mar 2020

31 Mar 2020

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A revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal ACP.

Snow-induced buffering in aerosol–cloud interactions

Takuro Michibata1, Kentaroh Suzuki2, and Toshihiko Takemura1 Takuro Michibata et al.
  • 1Research Institute for Applied Mechanics, Kyushu University, Fukuoka 816-8580, Japan
  • 2Atmosphere and Ocean Research Institute, The University of Tokyo, Chiba 277-8568, Japan

Abstract. Complex aerosol–cloud–precipitation interactions lead to large differences in estimates of aerosol impacts on climate among general circulation models (GCMs) and satellite retrievals. Typically, precipitating hydrometeors are treated diagnostically in most GCMs, and their radiative effects are ignored. Here, we quantify how the treatment of precipitation influences the simulated effective radiative forcing due to aerosol–cloud interactions (ERFaci) using a state-of-the-art GCM with a two-moment prognostic precipitation scheme that incorporates the radiative effect of precipitating particles, and investigate how microphysical process representations are related to macroscopic climate effects. Prognostic precipitation substantially weakens the magnitude of ERFaci (by approximately 75 %) compared with the traditional diagnostic scheme, and this is the result of the increased longwave (warming) and weakened shortwave (cooling) components of ERFaci. The former is attributed to additional adjustment processes induced by falling snow, and the latter stems largely from riming of snow by collection of cloud droplets. The significant reduction in ERFaci does not occur without prognostic snow, which contributes mainly by buffering the cloud response to aerosol perturbations through depleting cloud water via collection. Prognostic precipitation also alters the regional pattern of ERFaci, particularly over northern mid-latitudes where snow is abundant. The treatment of precipitation is thus a highly influential controlling factor of ERFaci, contributing more than other uncertain tunable processes related to aerosol–cloud–precipitation interactions. This change in ERFaci caused by the treatment of precipitation is large enough to explain the existing difference in ERFaci between GCMs and observations.

Takuro Michibata et al.

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Takuro Michibata et al.

Takuro Michibata et al.


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Latest update: 21 Sep 2020
Publications Copernicus
Short summary
This work reveals that prognostic precipitation significantly reduces the magnitude of aerosol–cloud interactions (ERFaci), mainly due to the collection process associated with snowflakes and underlying cloud droplets. This precipitation-driven buffering effect, which is missing in traditional GCMs, can explain the model–observation discrepancy in ERFaci. These results underscore the necessity for a prognostic precipitation framework in GCMs for more reliable climate simulations.
This work reveals that prognostic precipitation significantly reduces the magnitude of...