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Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2020-754
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2020-754
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  12 Aug 2020

12 Aug 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal ACP.

A-Train estimates of the sensitivity of warm rain likelihood and efficiency to cloud size, environmental moisture, and aerosols

Kevin M. Smalley and Anita D. Rapp Kevin M. Smalley and Anita D. Rapp
  • Department of Atmospheric Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas

Abstract. Precipitation efficiency has been found to play an important role in constraining the sensitivity of the climate through its role in controlling cloud cover, yet understanding of its controls are not fully understood. Here we use CloudSat observations to identify individual contiguous shallow cumulus cloud objects and compute the ratio of cloud water path to rain water path as a proxy for warm rain efficiency (WRE). Cloud objects are then conditionally sampled by cloud-top height, relative humidity, and aerosol optical depth (AOD) to analyze changes in WRE as a function of cloud size (extent). For a fixed cloud-top height, WRE increases with extent and environmental humidity following a double power-law distribution, as a function of extent. Similarly, WRE increases holding environmental moisture constant. There is surprisingly little relationship between WRE and AOD when conditioned by cloud-top height, suggesting that once rain drop formation begins, aerosols may not be as important for WRE as cloud size and depth. Consistent with prior studies, results show an increase in WRE with sea surface temperature. However, for a given depth and SST, WRE is also dependent on cloud size and becomes larger as cloud size increases. Given that larger objects become more frequent with increasing SST, these results imply that increasing precipitation efficiencies with SST are due not only to deeper clouds with greater cloud water contents, but also the propensity for larger clouds which may have more protected updrafts.

Kevin M. Smalley and Anita D. Rapp

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Kevin M. Smalley and Anita D. Rapp

Kevin M. Smalley and Anita D. Rapp

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Latest update: 29 Sep 2020
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Short summary
Understanding factors influencing warm rain efficiency (WRE) are needed to improve simulation of low clouds in climate models. We use Satellite observations of shallow cumulus to investigate the influence of cloud size on WRE in different environments. For a fixed temperature and relative humidity, WRE increases with cloud size, but it varies little with aerosols. Results imply that increasing WRE with rising temperature not only relate to deeper clouds, but also to more frequent larger clouds.
Understanding factors influencing warm rain efficiency (WRE) are needed to improve simulation of...
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