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© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 14 Apr 2020

Submitted as: research article | 14 Apr 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal ACP.

Impact of biomass burning aerosols on radiation, clouds, and precipitation over the Amazon during the dry season: dependence of aerosol-cloud and aerosol-radiation interactions on aerosol loading

Lixia Liu1, Yafang Cheng1, Siwen Wang1, Chao Wei1, Mira Pöhlker1, Christopher Pöhlker1, Paulo Artaxo2, Manish Shrivastava3, Meinrat O. Andreae1,4, Ulrich Pöschl1, and Hang Su1 Lixia Liu et al.
  • 1Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Mainz, Germany
  • 2Institute of Physics, University of São Paulo, São Paulo 05508-900, Brazil
  • 3Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, Washington, USA
  • 4Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California at San Diego, La Jolla, California, USA

Abstract. Biomass burning (BB) aerosols can influence regional and global climate through interactions with radiation, clouds, and precipitation. Here, we investigate the impact of BB aerosols on the energy balance and hydrological cycle over the Amazon Basin during the dry season. We performed WRF-Chem model simulations for a range of different BB emission scenarios to explore and characterize nonlinear effects and individual contributions from aerosol-radiation interactions (ARI) and aerosol-cloud interactions (ACI). The ARI of BB aerosols tend to suppress low-level liquid clouds by local warming and increased evaporation, and to facilitate the formation of high-level ice clouds by enhancing updrafts and condensation at high altitudes. In contrast, the ACI of BB aerosol particles tend to enhance the formation and lifetime of low-level liquid clouds by providing more cloud condensation nuclei (CCN), and to suppress the formation of high-level ice clouds by reducing updrafts and condensable water vapor at high altitudes (> 8 km).

For scenarios representing the lower and upper limits of BB emission estimates for recent years (2002–2016), we obtained total BB aerosol radiative forcings of −0.2 W m−2 and 1.5 W m−2, respectively, showing that the influence of BB aerosols on the regional energy balance can range from modest cooling to strong warming. We find that ACI dominate at low BB emission rates and low aerosol optical depth (AOD), leading to an increased cloud liquid water path (LWP) and negative radiative forcing, whereas ARI dominate at high BB emission rates and high AOD, leading to a reduction of LWP and positive radiative forcing. In all scenarios, BB aerosols led to a decrease in the frequency of occurrence and rate of precipitation, caused primarily by ACI effects at low aerosol loading and by ARI effects at high aerosol loading.

Overall, our results show that ACI tend to saturate at high aerosol loading, whereas the strength of ARI continues to increase and plays a more important role in highly polluted episodes and regions. This should hold not only for BB aerosols over the Amazon, but also for other light-absorbing aerosols such as fossil fuel combustion aerosols in industrialized and densely populated areas. The importance of ARI at high aerosol loading highlights the need for accurately characterizing aerosol optical properties in the investigation of aerosol effects on clouds, precipitation, and climate.

Lixia Liu et al.

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Latest update: 05 Jul 2020
Publications Copernicus
Short summary
This modeling paper reveals how the aerosol-cloud interactions (ACI) and aerosol-radiation interactions (ARI) induced by biomass burning (BB) aerosols act oppositely on the radiation, cloud, and precipitation in Amazon during the dry season. The varying relative significance of the ACI and ARI with BB aerosol concentration leads to a nonlinear dependence of the total climate response on BB aerosol loading and features the growing importance of the ARI at high aerosol loading.
This modeling paper reveals how the aerosol-cloud interactions (ACI) and aerosol-radiation...