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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2019-448
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2019-448
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 14 May 2019

Research article | 14 May 2019

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

Low cloud reduction within the smoky marine boundary layer and the diurnal cycle

Jianhao Zhang and Paquita Zuidema Jianhao Zhang and Paquita Zuidema
  • Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami, 4600 Rickenbacker Cswy, Miami, FL, 33149, USA

Abstract. Previous observational studies of the southeast Atlantic emphasize an increase in the stratocumulus cloud cover when shortwave-absorbing aerosols are present in the free-troposphere. Recent field measurements at Ascension Island (8° S, 14.5° W) reveal that smoke is also often present in the marine boundary layer, most evident in August when the smoke is highly absorbing of sunlight, the boundary layer is deeper, the cloud-top inversion is weaker, and a climatologically lower cloud fraction eases penetration of the sunlight to the surface, compared to later months. In these conditions, the low cloud cover decreases further with enhanced smoke loadings, reflecting a boundary layer semi-direct effect that is a positive feedback. The low cloud cover reduction is particularly pronounced in the afternoon, although the cloud liquid water path is more strongly reduced at night. The daily-mean surface-based mixed layer is warmer by approximately 0.5 K when more smoke is present in the boundary layer, with a warming peak in the late afternoon when the cloud cover reduction is largest. After sunset, sub-cloud moisture accumulates throughout the night, increasing the moisture stratification with the cloud layer. This increase in boundary layer decoupling is consistent with reduced turbulence. A new observation is that in the sunlit morning hours, the smokier boundary layer deepens by approximately 200 m, and both the liquid water paths and cloud top heights increase. We speculate this reflects radiatively-induced vertical ascent originating from within a well-mixed smoke-filled sub-cloud layer. Overall, the reduction in daytime low cloud decreases the top-of-atmosphere all-sky albedo, despite an increase in the top-of-atmosphere direct aerosol radiation of ~ 6.5 W m2 between the (most-least) smoky tercile composites. A convolving meteorological influence is also apparent near the cloud top, in that, although the free troposphere is also often smoky in August, the associated above-cloud potential temperatures are often cooler, rather than warmer, and better-mixed. The cooling weakens the inversion beyond that expected from the warming of the boundary layer and further encourages entrainment of more smoke into the already smoky boundary layer, increasing the longevity of the boundary layer smoke events. The free-tropospheric winds are also typically stronger and more easterly. More smoke appears to settle into the sub-cloud layer during the day than at night when it is smoky, speculated to reflect a deeper daytime sub-cloud layer facilitating entrainment, when the nighttime stratification does not.

Jianhao Zhang and Paquita Zuidema
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Status: final response (author comments only)
AC: Author comment | RC: Referee comment | SC: Short comment | EC: Editor comment
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Jianhao Zhang and Paquita Zuidema
Jianhao Zhang and Paquita Zuidema
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Latest update: 15 Jul 2019
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Short summary
BL semi-direct in the remote SE Atlantic is investigated using LASIC field measurements and satellite retrievals. Low cloud cover and TOA all-sky albedo decrease with enhanced smoke loadings in the BL. Daily-mean surface-based mixed layer is warmer by 0.5 K, moisture accumulates throughout the night, and BL deepens by 200 m in the sunlit morning hours, with LWPs and cloud top heights increasing, as parts of the smoke-altered diurnal cycle.
BL semi-direct in the remote SE Atlantic is investigated using LASIC field measurements and...
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