Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 12, 20483-20517, 2012
www.atmos-chem-phys-discuss.net/12/20483/2012/
doi:10.5194/acpd-12-20483-2012
© Author(s) 2012. 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.
Droplet number prediction uncertainties from CCN: an integrated assessment using observations and a global adjoint model
R. H. Moore1,*, V. A. Karydis2, S. L. Capps1, T. L. Lathem2, and A. Nenes1,2
1School of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
2School of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
*now at: NASA Postdoctoral Program, NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia, USA

Abstract. We use the Global Modeling Initiative (GMI) chemical transport model with a cloud droplet parameterization adjoint to quantify the sensitivity of cloud droplet number concentration to uncertainties in predicting CCN concentrations. Published CCN closure prediction uncertainties for six different sets of simplifying compositional and mixing state assumptions are used as proxies for modeled CCN uncertainty arising from application of those scenarios. It is found that cloud droplet number concentrations are fairly insensitive to CCN-active aerosol number concentrations over the continents (∂Nd/∂Na ~ 10–30%), but the sensitivities exceed 70% in pristine regions such as the Alaskan Arctic and remote oceans. Since most of the anthropogenic indirect forcing is concentrated over the continents, this work shows that the application of Köhler theory and attendant simplifying assumptions in models is not a major source of uncertainty in predicting cloud droplet number or anthropogenic aerosol indirect forcing for the liquid, stratiform clouds simulated in these models. However, it does highlight the sensitivity of some remote areas to pollution brought into the region via long-range transport (e.g. biomass burning) or from seasonal biogenic sources (e.g. phytoplankton as a source of dimethylsulfide in the southern oceans). Since these transient processes are not captured well by the climatological emissions inventories employed by current large-scale models, the uncertainties in aerosol-cloud interactions during these events could be much larger than those uncovered here. This finding motivates additional measurements in these pristine regions, which have recieved little attention to date, in order to quantify the impact of, and uncertainty associated with, transient processes in effecting changes in cloud properties.

Citation: Moore, R. H., Karydis, V. A., Capps, S. L., Lathem, T. L., and Nenes, A.: Droplet number prediction uncertainties from CCN: an integrated assessment using observations and a global adjoint model, Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 12, 20483-20517, doi:10.5194/acpd-12-20483-2012, 2012.
 
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