Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2022-335
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2022-335
 
11 May 2022
11 May 2022
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal ACP.

Observing short timescale cloud development to constrain aerosol-cloud interactions

Edward Gryspeerdt1, Franziska Glassmeier2, Graham Feingold3, Fabian Hoffmann4, and Rebecca J. Murray-Watson1 Edward Gryspeerdt et al.
  • 1Space and Atmospheric Physics Group, Imperial College London, UK
  • 2Department Geoscience and Remote Sensing, Delft University of Technology, Delft, The Netherlands
  • 3National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Chemical Sciences Laboratory, Boulder, Colorado, USA
  • 4Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, München, Germany

Abstract. The aerosol impact on liquid water path (LWP) is a key uncertainty in the overall climate impact of aerosol. However, despite a significant effort in this area, the size of the effect remains poorly constrained, and even the sign is unclear. Recent studies have shown that the relationship between droplet number concentration (Nd) and LWP is an unreliable measure of the impact of Nd variations on LWP due to the difficulty in establishing causality. In this work, we use satellite observations of the short-term development of clouds to examine the role of Nd perturbations in LWP variations.

Similar to previous studies, a increase followed by a general decrease in LWP with increasing Nd is observed, suggesting an overall negative LWP response to Nd and a warming LWP adjustment to aerosol. However, the Nd also responds to the local environment, with aerosol production, entrainment from the free troposphere and wet scavenging all acting to modify the Nd. Many of these effects act to further steepen the Nd-LWP relationship and obscure the causal Nd impact on LWP.

Using the temporal development of clouds to account for these feedbacks in the Nd-LWP system, a weaker negative Nd-LWP relationship is observed over most of the globe. This relationship is highly sensitive to the initial cloud state, illuminating the roles of different processes in shaping the Nd-LWP relationship. The nature of the current observing system limits this work to a single timeperiod for observations, highlighting the need for more frequent observations of key cloud properties to constrain cloud behaviour at process timescales.

Edward Gryspeerdt et al.

Status: open (until 22 Jun 2022)

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Edward Gryspeerdt et al.

Edward Gryspeerdt et al.

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Short summary
The response of clouds to changes in aerosol remains a big uncertainty in our understanding of the climate. Studies typically look at aerosol and cloud processes in snapshot images, measuring all properties at the same time. Here we use multiple images to characterise how cloud temporal development responds to aerosol. We find a reduction in liquid water path with increasing aerosol, party due to feedbacks. This suggests the aerosol impact on cloud water may be weaker than in previous studies.
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