Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 13, 11971-11995, 2013
© Author(s) 2013. 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.
The contribution of extratropical cyclones to observed cloud–aerosol relationships
B. S. Grandey1,*, P. Stier1, R. G. Grainger1, and T. M. Wagner1
1Atmospheric, Oceanic and Planetary Physics, Department of Physics, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
*now at: Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology, Singapore

Abstract. Meteorological covariation may drive relationships between aerosol and cloud-related properties. It is important to account for the meteorological contribution to observed cloud–aerosol relationships in order to improve understanding of aerosol–cloud–climate interactions. A new method of investigating the contribution of meteorological covariation to observed cloud–aerosol relationships is introduced. Other studies have investigated the contribution of local meteorology to cloud–aerosol relationships. In this paper, a complimentary large-scale view is presented. Extratropical cyclones have been previously shown to affect satellite-retrieved aerosol optical depth (τ), due to enhanced emission of sea salt and sea surface brightness artefacts in regions of higher wind speed. Extratropical cyclones have also been shown to affect cloud-related properties such as cloud fraction (fc) and cloud top temperature (Ttop). Therefore, it seems plausible to hypothesise that extratropical cyclones may drive relationships between cloud-related properties and τ. In this paper, a description of extratropical cyclones, based on the relative vorticity of the storm and position in the storm domain, is used to analyse MODerate resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) retrieved τ, fc and Ttop data. This storm-centric description is capable of explaining fc–τ relationships, although the relationships explained represent only a small component of the relationships observed in the MODIS data. This storm-centric approach produces no statistically robust explanation for Ttop–τ relationships, suggesting that large-scale synoptic conditions in the mid-latitudes do not drive Ttop–τ relationships. The primary causes for observed cloud–aerosol relationships are likely to be other factors such as retrieval errors, local meteorology or aerosol–cloud interactions.

Citation: Grandey, B. S., Stier, P., Grainger, R. G., and Wagner, T. M.: The contribution of extratropical cyclones to observed cloud–aerosol relationships, Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 13, 11971-11995, doi:10.5194/acpd-13-11971-2013, 2013.
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