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Simulating aerosol lifecycle impacts on the subtropical stratocumulus-to-cumulus transition using large-eddy simulations
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  • Ehsan Erfani,
  • Peter N. Blossey,
  • Robert Wood,
  • Johannes K C Mohrmann,
  • Sarah J. Doherty,
  • Matthew C Wyant,
  • Kuan-Ting O
Ehsan Erfani
University of Washington, University of Washington, University of Washington

Corresponding Author:ehsan@nevada.unr.edu

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Peter N. Blossey
University of Washington, University of Washington, University of Washington
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Robert Wood
University of Washington, University of Washington, University of Washington
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Johannes K C Mohrmann
University of Washington, University of Washington, University of Washington
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Sarah J. Doherty
University of Washington, University of Washington, University of Washington
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Matthew C Wyant
University of Washington, University of Washington, University of Washington
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Kuan-Ting O
University of Washington, University of Washington, University of Washington
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Abstract

Observed stratocumulus to cumulus transitions (SCT) and their sensitivity to aerosols are studied using a Large-Eddy Simulation (LES) model that simulates the aerosol lifecycle, including aerosol sources and sinks. To initialize, force, and evaluate the LES, we used a combination of reanalysis, satellite, and aircraft data from the 2015 Cloud System Evolution in the Trades field campaign over the Northeast Pacific. The simulations follow two Lagrangian trajectories from initially overcast stratocumulus to the tropical shallow cumulus region near Hawaii. The first trajectory is characterized by an initially clean, well-mixed stratocumulus-topped marine boundary layer (MBL), then continuous MBL deepening and precipitation onset followed by a clear SCT and a consistent reduction of aerosols that ultimately leads to an ultra-clean layer in the upper MBL. The second trajectory is characterized by an initially polluted and decoupled MBL, weak precipitation, and a late SCT. Overall, the LES simulates the observed general MBL features. Sensitivity studies with different aerosol initial and boundary conditions reveal aerosol-induced changes in the transition, and albedo changes are decomposed into the Twomey effect and adjustments of cloud liquid water path and cloud fraction. Impacts on precipitation play a key role in the sensitivity to aerosols: for the first case, runs with enhanced aerosols exhibit distinct changes in microphysics and macrophysics such as enhanced cloud droplet number concentration, reduced precipitation, and delayed SCT. Cloud adjustments are dominant in this case. For the second case, enhancing aerosols does not affect cloud macrophysical properties significantly, and the Twomey effect dominates.
16 Nov 2022Published in Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres volume 127 issue 21. 10.1029/2022JD037258