Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 12, 27111-27172, 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.
A comparative study of the response of non-drizzling stratocumulus to meteorological and aerosol perturbations
J. L. Petters1, H. Jiang2, G. Feingold3, D. L. Rossiter1, D. Khelif4, L. C. Sloan1, and P. Y. Chuang1
1University of California – Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, USA
2Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere, Fort Collins, USA
3NOAA/Earth System Research Laboratory, Boulder, USA
4University of California – Irvine, Irvine, USA

Abstract. The impact of changes in aerosol and cloud droplet concentration (Na and Nd) on the radiative forcing of stratocumulus-topped boundary layers (STBLs) has been widely studied. How these impacts compare to those due to variations in meteorological context has not been investigated in a systematic fashion. In this study we examine the impact of observed variations in meteorological context and aerosol state on daytime, non-drizzling stratiform evolution, and determine how resulting changes in cloud properties compare. We perturb aerosol and meteorological properties within an observationally-constrained LES and determine the cloud response, focusing on changes in liquid water path (LWP), bulk optical depth (τ) and cloud radiative forcing (CRF).

We find that realistic variations in meteorological context (i.e. jump properties) can elicit responses in τ and shortwave (SW) CRF that are on the same order of magnitude as, and at times larger than, those responses found due to similar changes in aerosol state (i.e Nd). Further, we find that one hour differences in the timing of SW radiative heating can lead to substantial changes in LWP and τ. Our results suggest that, for observational studies of aerosol influences on the radiative properties of stratiform clouds, consistency in meteorological context (the cloud top jump properties in particular) and time of observations from day-to-day must be carefully considered.

Citation: Petters, J. L., Jiang, H., Feingold, G., Rossiter, D. L., Khelif, D., Sloan, L. C., and Chuang, P. Y.: A comparative study of the response of non-drizzling stratocumulus to meteorological and aerosol perturbations, Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 12, 27111-27172, doi:10.5194/acpd-12-27111-2012, 2012.
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