Environmental effects on aerosol-cloud interaction in non-precipitating marine boundary layer (MBL) clouds over the eastern North Atlantic

Xiaojian Zheng, Baike Xi, Xiquan Dong, Peng Wu, Timothy Logan, Yuan Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Over the eastern North Atlantic (ENA) ocean, a total of 20 non-precipitating single-layer marine boundary layer (MBL) stratus and stratocumulus cloud cases are selected to investigate the impacts of the environmental variables on the aerosol-cloud interaction (ACIr) using the ground-based measurements from the Department of Energy Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) facility at the ENA site during 2016-2018. The ACIr represents the relative change in cloud droplet effective radius re with respect to the relative change in cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) number concentration at 0.2ĝ€¯% supersaturation (NCCN,0.2%) in the stratified water vapor environment. The ACIr values vary from -0.01 to 0.22 with increasing sub-cloud boundary layer precipitable water vapor (PWVBL) conditions, indicating that re is more sensitive to the CCN loading under sufficient water vapor supply, owing to the combined effect of enhanced condensational growth and coalescence processes associated with higher Nc and PWVBL. The principal component analysis shows that the most pronounced pattern during the selected cases is the co-variations in the MBL conditions characterized by the vertical component of turbulence kinetic energy (TKEw), the decoupling index (Di), and PWVBL. The environmental effects on ACIr emerge after the data are stratified into different TKEw regimes. The ACIr values, under both lower and higher PWVBL conditions, more than double from the low-TKEw to high-TKEw regime. This can be explained by the fact that stronger boundary layer turbulence maintains a well-mixed MBL, strengthening the connection between cloud microphysical properties and the below-cloud CCN and moisture sources. With sufficient water vapor and low CCN loading, the active coalescence process broadens the cloud droplet size spectra and consequently results in an enlargement of re. The enhanced activation of CCN and the cloud droplet condensational growth induced by the higher below-cloud CCN loading can effectively decrease re, which jointly presents as the increased ACIr. This study examines the importance of environmental effects on the ACIr assessments and provides observational constraints to future model evaluations of aerosol-cloud interactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)335-354
Number of pages20
JournalAtmospheric Chemistry and Physics
Volume22
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 10 2022
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science

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