Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 11, 5003-5017, 2011
© Author(s) 2011. This work is distributed
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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.
Cloud invigoration and suppression by aerosols over the tropical region based on satellite observations
F. Niu and Z. Li
Dept. of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences and Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Abstract. Aerosols may modify cloud properties and precipitation via a variety of mechanisms with varying and contradicting consequences. Using a large ensemble of satellite data acquired by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer onboard the Earth Observing System's Aqua platform, the CloudSat cloud profiling radar and the Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observations (CALIPSO) satellite over the tropical oceans, we identified two distinct responses of clouds and precipitation to increases in aerosol loading. Cloud-top temperatures decrease significantly with increasing aerosol index (AI) over oceans and aerosol optical depth (AOT) over land for mixed-phase clouds with warm cloud bases; no significant changes were found for liquid clouds. The distinct responses are explained by two mechanisms, namely, the aerosol invigoration effect and the microphysical effect. Aerosols can significantly invigorate convection mainly through ice processes, while precipitation from liquid clouds is suppressed through aerosol microphysical processes. Precipitation rates are found to increase with AI for mixed-phase clouds, but decrease for liquid clouds, suggesting that the dominant effect differs for the two types of clouds. These effects change the overall distribution of precipitation rates, leading to more or heavier rains in dirty environments than in cleaner ones.

Citation: Niu, F. and Li, Z.: Cloud invigoration and suppression by aerosols over the tropical region based on satellite observations, Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 11, 5003-5017, doi:10.5194/acpd-11-5003-2011, 2011.
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