Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 10, 24919-24960, 2010
© Author(s) 2010. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
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This discussion paper has been under review for the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP). Please refer to the corresponding final paper in ACP.
Impacts of water vapor/aerosol loading trends and land cover on aerosol microphysical and radiative effects on clouds during the Amazon biomass burning season
J. E. Ten Hoeve1, L. A. Remer2, and M. Z. Jacobson1
1Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Stanford University, CA, USA
2NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, USA

Abstract. High resolution aerosol, cloud, water vapor, and temperature profile data from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) are utilized to examine the impact of aerosols on clouds during the Amazonian biomass burning season in Rondônia, Brazil. It is found that increasing background column water vapor (CWV) throughout this transition season between the Amazon dry and wet seasons likely exerts a strong effect on cloud properties. As a result, proper analysis of aerosol-cloud relationships requires that data be stratified by CWV to account better for the influence of background meteorological trends. Previous studies of aerosol-cloud interactions over Amazonia have ignored the systematic changes to meteorological factors during the transition season, leading to possible misinterpretation of their results. Cloud fraction is shown to increase or remain constant with aerosol optical depth (AOD), depending on the value of CWV, whereas the relationship between cloud optical depth (COD) and AOD exhibits a different relationship. COD increases with AOD until AOD 0.25, which is assumed to be due to the first indirect (microphysical) effect. At higher values of AOD, COD is found to decrease with increasing AOD, which may be due to: (1) the inhibition of cloud development by absorbing aerosols (radiative effect/semi-direct effect) and/or (2) a possible retrieval artifact in which the measured reflectance in the visible is less than expected from a cloud top either from the darkening of clouds through the addition of carbonaceous biomass burning aerosols within or above clouds or subpixel dark surface contamination in the measured cloud reflectance. If (1) is a contributing mechanism, as we suspect, then a linear relationship between the indirect effect and increasing AOD, assumed in a majority of global climate models, is inaccurate since these models do not include treatment of aerosol absorption in and around clouds. The relationship between aerosols and both CWV and clouds over varying land surface types is also analyzed. The study finds that the difference in CWV between forested and deforested land is not correlated with aerosol loading, supporting the assumption that temporal variation of CWV is primarily a function of the larger-scale meteorology. However, a difference in the response of cloud fraction to increasing AOD is observed between forested and deforested land. This suggests that dissimilarities between other meteorological factors, such as atmospheric stability, may have an impact on aerosol-cloud correlations between different land cover types.

Citation: Ten Hoeve, J. E., Remer, L. A., and Jacobson, M. Z.: Impacts of water vapor/aerosol loading trends and land cover on aerosol microphysical and radiative effects on clouds during the Amazon biomass burning season, Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 10, 24919-24960, doi:10.5194/acpd-10-24919-2010, 2010.
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