Deconstructing the precipitation susceptibility construct: Improving methodology for aerosol-cloud precipitation studies

Armin Sorooshian, Graham Feingold, Matthew D. Lebsock, Hongli Jiang, Graeme L. Stephens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


It is generally thought that an increase in aerosol particles suppresses precipitation in warm clouds. The nature and magnitude of this effect are highly uncertain owing to numerous microphysical and macrophysical processes that influence clouds over a wide range of spatial and temporal scales. This work addresses the need to improve the evidence for and quantification of aerosol effects on precipitation by using observational data. Previous work introduced the concept of precipitation susceptibility as a metric for changes in precipitation that result from aerosol perturbations. Motivated by the difficulty in obtaining statistically significant aerosol measurements in the vicinity of clouds, this study explores breaking up the precipitation susceptibility construct into separate components: an aerosol-cloud interaction component and a cloud-precipitation component. These are used to quantify precipitation susceptibility, while also accounting for meteorological factors that could obfuscate the response of clouds to aerosol perturbations. The utility of this technique is demonstrated using a diverse set of tools, including data from NASA's A-Train constellation of satellites, aircraft measurements, and models of various complexities. Employing this method results in increased confidence in causal relationships between aerosol perturbations and precipitation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberD17201
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research Atmospheres
Issue number17
StatePublished - 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Materials Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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