Inverse modeling of cloud-aerosol interactions-Part 1: Detailed response surface analysis

D. G. Partridge, J. A. Vrugt, P. Tunved, A. M.L. Ekman, D. Gorea, A. Sorooshian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


New methodologies are required to probe the sensitivity of parameters describing cloud droplet activation. This paper presents an inverse modeling-based method for exploring cloud-aerosol interactions via response surfaces. The objective function, containing the difference between the measured and model predicted cloud droplet size distribution is studied in a two-dimensional framework, and presented for pseudo-adiabatic cloud parcel model parameters that are pair-wise selected. From this response surface analysis it is shown that the susceptibility of cloud droplet size distribution to variations in different aerosol physiochemical parameters is highly dependent on the aerosol environment and meteorological conditions. In general the cloud droplet size distribution is most susceptible to changes in the updraft velocity. A shift towards an increase in the importance of chemistry for the cloud nucleating ability of particles is shown to exist somewhere between marine average and rural continental aerosol regimes.

We also use these response surfaces to explore the feasibility of inverse modeling to determine cloud-aerosol interactions. It is shown that the "cloud- aerosol" inverse problem is particularly difficult to solve due to significant parameter interaction, presence of multiple regions of attraction, numerous local optima, and considerable parameter insensitivity.

The identifiability of the model parameters will be dependent on the choice of the objective function. Sensitivity analysis is performed to investigate the location of the information content within the calibration data to confirm that our choice of objective function maximizes information retrieval from the cloud droplet size distribution. Cloud parcel models that employ a moving-centre based calculation of the cloud droplet size distribution pose additional difficulties when applying automatic search algorithms for studying cloud-aerosol interactions. To aid future studies, an increased resolution of the region of the size spectrum associated with droplet activation within cloud parcel models, or further development of fixed-sectional cloud models would be beneficial. Despite these improvements, it is demonstrated that powerful search algorithms remain necessary to efficiently explore the parameter space and successfully solve the cloud-aerosol inverse problem.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7269-7287
Number of pages19
JournalAtmospheric Chemistry and Physics
Issue number14
StatePublished - 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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