Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 12, 25441-25485, 2012
© Author(s) 2012. This work is distributed
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The first aerosol indirect effect quantified through airborne remote sensing during VOCALS-REx
D. Painemal1 and P. Zuidema2
1NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, VA, USA
2Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Miami, Key Biscayne, FL, USA

Abstract. The first aerosol indirect effect (1AIE) is investigated using a combination of in situ and remotely-sensed aircraft (NCAR C-130) observations acquired during VOCALS-REx over the Southeast Pacific stratocumulus cloud regime. Satellite analyses have previously identified a high albedo susceptibitility to changes in cloud microphysics and aerosols over this region. The 1AIE was broken down into the product of two independently-estimated terms: the cloud aerosol interaction metric ACIτ =dln τ/dln Na|LWP, and the relative albedo (A) susceptibility SR-τ = dA/3dln τ|LWP, with τ and Na denoting retrieved cloud optical thickness and in-situ aerosol concentration, respectively and calculated for fixed intervals of liquid water path (LWP). ACIτ was estimated by combining in-situ Na sampled below the cloud, with τ and LWP derived from, respectively, simultaneous upward-looking broadband irradiance and narrow field-of-view millimeter-wave radiometer measurements, collected at 1 Hz during four eight-hour daytime flights by the C-130 aircraft. ACIτ values were typically large, close to the physical upper limit (0.33), increasing with LWP. The high ACIτ values were in agreement with other in-situ airborne studies in pristine marine stratocumulus and reflect the imposition of a LWP constraint and simultaneity of aerosol and cloud measurements. SR-τ increased with LWP and τ, reached a maximum SR-τ (0.086) for LWP (τ) of 58 g m−2 (13–14), decreasing slightly thereafter. The net first aerosol indirect effect thus increased over the LWP range of 30–80 g m−2. These values were consistent with satellite estimates derived from instantaneous, collocated CERES albedo and MODIS-retrieved droplet number concentrations at 50 km resolution. The consistency of the airborne and satellite estimates (for airborne remotely sensed Nd < 1100 cm−3), despite their independent approaches, differences in observational scales, and retrieval assumptions, is hypothesized to reflect the robust remote sensing conditions for these homogeneous clouds. We recommend the Southeast Pacific for a regional assessment of the first aerosol indirect effect in climate models on this basis.

Citation: Painemal, D. and Zuidema, P.: The first aerosol indirect effect quantified through airborne remote sensing during VOCALS-REx, Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 12, 25441-25485, doi:10.5194/acpd-12-25441-2012, 2012.
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