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A CloudSat and CALIPSO-based evaluation of the effects of thermodynamic instability and aerosol loading on Amazon Basin deep convection and lightning
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  • Dale J. Allen,
  • Kenneth E. Pickering,
  • Melody A Avery,
  • Zhanqing Li,
  • siyu shan,
  • Carlos A. Morales Rodriguez,
  • Paulo Artaxo
Dale J. Allen
University of Maryland, College Park

Corresponding Author:djallen@umd.edu

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Kenneth E. Pickering
University of Maryland
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Melody A Avery
NASA Langley Research Center
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Zhanqing Li
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siyu shan
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Carlos A. Morales Rodriguez
Universidade de São Paulo, Instituto Astronomia, Geofísica e Ciências Atmosféricas
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Paulo Artaxo
University of Sao Paulo
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The Amazon Basin, which plays a critical role in the carbon and water cycle, is under stress due to changes in climate, agricultural practices, and deforestation. The effects of thermodynamic and microphysical forcing on the strength of thunderstorms in the Basin (75-45° W, 0-15° S) were examined during the pre-monsoon season (mid-August through mid-December), a period with large variations in aerosols, intense convective storms, and plentiful flashes. The analysis used measurements of radar reflectivity, ice water content (IWC), and aerosol type from instruments aboard the CloudSat and CALIPSO satellites, flash rates from the ground-based STARNET network, and total aerosol optical depth (AOD) from a surface network and a meteorological re-analysis. After controlling for convective available potential energy (CAPE), it was found that thunderstorms that developed under dirty (high-AOD) conditions were 1.5 km deeper, had 50% more IWC, and more than two times as many flashes as storms that developed under clean conditions. The sensitivity of flashes to AOD was largest for low values of CAPE where increases of more than a factor of three were observed. The additional ice water indicated that these deeper systems had higher vertical velocities and more condensation nuclei capable of sustaining higher concentrations of water and large hydrometeors in the upper troposphere. Flash rates were also found to be larger during periods when smoke rather than dust was common in the lower troposphere, likely because smoky periods were less stable due to higher values of CAPE and AOD and lower values of mid-tropospheric relative humidity.
17 Aug 2023Submitted to ESS Open Archive
22 Aug 2023Published in ESS Open Archive