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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.

  22 Oct 2020

22 Oct 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal ACP.

Effect of volcanic emissions on clouds during the 2008 and 2018 Kilauea degassing events

Katherine H. Breen1,2, Donifan Barahona1, Tianle Yuan1,3, Huisheng Bian1,3, and Scott C. James4 Katherine H. Breen et al.
  • 1NASA, Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, USA
  • 2Universities Space Research Association, Columbia, MD, USA
  • 3Joint Center for Earth Systems Technology. University of Maryland, Baltimore County, MD, USA
  • 4Baylor University, Departments of Geosciences and Mechanical Engineering, Waco, TX, USA

Abstract. Aerosol emissions from volcanic eruptions in otherwise clean environments are regarded as natural experiments where the aerosol effects on clouds and climate can be partitioned from other effects like meteorology and anthropogenic emissions. In this work, we combined satellite retrievals, reanalysis products, and atmospheric modeling to analyze the mechanism of aerosol-cloud interactions during two degassing events at the Kilauea Volcano in 2008 and 2018. The eruptive nature of the 2008 and 2018 degassing events was distinct from long-term volcanic activity for Kilauea. For both events, we performed a comprehensive investigation on the effects of aerosol emissions on macro and microphysical cloud processes for both liquid and ice clouds. This is the first time such an analysis has been reported for the 2018 event. Similarities between both events suggested that aerosol-cloud interactions related to the cloud albedo modification were likely decoupled from local meteorology. In both events the ingestion of aerosols within convective parcels enhanced the detrainment of condensate in the upper troposphere resulting in deeper clouds than in pristine conditions. Accounting for ice nucleation on ash particles led to enhanced ice crystal concentrations at cirrus levels and a slight decrease in ice water content, improving the correlation of the model results with the satellite retrievals. Overall, aerosol loading, plume characteristics, and meteorology contributed to observed and simulated changes in clouds during the Kilauea degassing events.

Katherine H. Breen et al.

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Katherine H. Breen et al.

Katherine H. Breen et al.


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Latest update: 24 Nov 2020
Publications Copernicus
Short summary
Increases in atmospheric aerosols affect the scattering and absorption of solar radiation by altering the macro- and microphysical processes of clouds. In this work, we analyze aerosol-cloud interactions in response to degassing events from the Kilauea Volcano in 2008 and 2018 by comparing satellite and simulated cloud properties. Results show a threshold response to overcome meteorological effects that is largely controlled by aerosol concentration, composition, plume height, and ENSO state.
Increases in atmospheric aerosols affect the scattering and absorption of solar radiation by...