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Discussion papers | Copyright
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 01 Mar 2018

Research article | 01 Mar 2018

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This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP).

Satellite-based estimate of the variability of warm cloud properties associated with aerosol and meteorological conditions

Yuqin Liu1,2, Jiahua Zhang2,3, Putian Zhou5, Tao Lin1,6, Juan Hong7, Lamei Shi2,3, Feimei Yao3, Huadong Guo2, and de Leeuw Gerrit4,5 Yuqin Liu et al.
  • 1Key Lab of Urban Environment and Health, Institute of Urban Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xiamen 361021, China
  • 2Institute of Remote Sensing and Digital Earth, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
  • 3University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
  • 4Finish Meteorological Institute, Climate Change Unit, P.O. Box 503, 00101 Helsinki, Finland
  • 5Department of Physics, P.O. Box 64, 00014 University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
  • 6Xiamen Key Lab of Urban Metabolism, Xiamen 361021, China
  • 7Institute for Environmental and Climate Research, Jinan University, Guangzhou, Guangdong 511443, China

Abstract. Aerosol-cloud interaction is examined using four years of data from the MODIS/Terra (morning orbit) and MODIS/Aqua (afternoon orbit) satellites. Aerosol optical depth (AOD) and cloud properties retrieved from both sensors are used to explore in a statistical sense the morning-to-afternoon variation of cloud properties in conditions with low and high AOD, over both land and ocean. The results show that the morning-to-afternoon variation of cloud properties during the 3 hours between the Terra and Aqua overpasses have similar patterns (increase or decrease) over land under both low and high AOD conditions. The variation in d(Cloud_X), defined as the mean change in cloud property Cloud_X between the morning and afternoon overpasses in high AOD conditions minus that in low AOD conditions, is different over land and ocean. This applies to cloud droplet effective radius (CDR), cloud fraction (CF) and cloud top pressure (CTP), but not to cloud optical thickness (COT) and cloud liquid water path (CWP). The effects of initial cloud fraction and meteorological conditions on the change in CF are also explored, showing that upward motion of air parcels can enhance the cloud cover much more when AOD is high than when it is low. In contrast, the increase of cloud cover with increasing relative humidity is much stronger in a relatively clean atmosphere with low AOD than in a more polluted atmosphere. Meanwhile, stable atmospheric conditions favour the development of a low cloud cover, especially when AOD is high. Overall, the analysis of the diurnal variation of cloud properties provides a better understanding of aerosol-cloud interaction over land and ocean.

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