10 Oct 2022
10 Oct 2022
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal ACP.

Contribution of regional aerosol nucleation to low-level CCN in an Amazonian deep convective environment: Results from a regionally nested global model

Xuemei Wang1, Hamish Gordon2, Daniel P. Grosvenor1, Meinrat O. Andreae3, and Ken S. Carslaw1 Xuemei Wang et al.
  • 1School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, LS2 9JT, Leeds, United Kingdom
  • 2College of Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University, PA 15213, United States
  • 3Biogeochemistry, Multiphase Chemistry, and Particle Chemistry Departments, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Mainz, Germany

Abstract. Global model studies and observations have shown that downward transport of aerosol nucleated in the free troposphere is a major source of cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) to the global boundary layer. In Amazonia, observations show that this downward transport can occur during strong convective activity. However, it is not clear from these studies over what spatial scale this cycle of aerosol formation and downward supply of CCN is occurring. Here, we aim to quantify the extent to which the supply of aerosol to the Amazonian boundary layer is generated from nucleation within a 1000 km regional domain or from aerosol produced further afield, and the effectiveness of the transport by deep convection. We run the atmosphere-only configuration of the HadGEM3 climate model incorporating a 440 km × 1080 km regional domain over Amazonia with 4 km resolution. Simulations were performed over several diurnal cycles of convection. Below 1 km altitude in the regional domain, our results show that nucleation within the regional domain accounts for only 1.8 % of all Aitken and accumulation mode aerosol particles, whereas nucleation that occurred outside the domain (in the global model) accounts for 81 %. The remaining aerosol is primary in origin. Above 10 km, the regional-domain nucleation accounts for up to 64 % of Aitken and accumulation mode aerosol, but over several days very few particles nucleated above 10 km in the regional domain are transported into the boundary layer within the domain, and in fact very little air is mixed that far down. Rather, particles transported downwards into the boundary layer originated from outside the regional domain and entered the domain at lower altitudes. Our model results show that CCN entering the Amazonian boundary layer are transported downwards gradually over multiple convective cycles on scales much larger than 1000 km. Therefore, on a 1000 km scale in the model (approximately one-third the size of Amazonia), trace gas emission, new particle formation, transport and CCN production do not form a "closed loop" regulated by the biosphere. Rather, on this scale, long-range transport of aerosol is a much more important factor controlling CCN in the boundary layer.

Xuemei Wang et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on acp-2022-705', Anonymous Referee #1, 11 Nov 2022
  • RC2: 'Comment on acp-2022-705', Anonymous Referee #2, 24 Nov 2022

Xuemei Wang et al.

Xuemei Wang et al.


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Short summary
New particle formation in the upper troposphere is important for the global boundary layer aerosol population and they can be transported downward in Amazonia. We use a global and a regional model to quantify the number of aerosols that are formed at high altitude and transported downward in a 1000 km region. We find that the majority of the aerosols are from outside the region. This suggests that the 1000 km region is unlikely to be a ‘closed loop’ for aerosol formation, transport and growth.