Aerosol effects on deep convection: The propagation of aerosol perturbations through convective cloud microphysics

Max Heikenfeld, Bethan White, Laurent Labbouz, Philip Stier

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13 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The impact of aerosols on ice- and mixed-phase processes in deep convective clouds remains highly uncertain, and the wide range of interacting microphysical processes is still poorly understood. To understand these processes, we analyse diagnostic output of all individual microphysical process rates for two bulk microphysics schemes in the Weather and Research Forecasting model (WRF). We investigate the response of individual processes to changes in aerosol conditions and the propagation of perturbations through the microphysics all the way to the macrophysical development of the convective clouds. We perform simulations for two different cases of idealised supercells using two double-moment bulk microphysics schemes and a bin microphysics scheme. The simulations cover a comprehensive range of values for cloud droplet number concentration (CDNC) and cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) concentration as a proxy for aerosol effects on convective clouds. We have developed a new cloud tracking algorithm to analyse the morphology and time evolution of individually tracked convective cells in the simulations and their response to the aerosol perturbations.

This analysis confirms an expected decrease in warm rain formation processes due to autoconversion and accretion for more polluted conditions. There is no evidence of a significant increase in the total amount of latent heat, as changes to the individual components of the integrated latent heating in the cloud compensate each other. The latent heating from freezing and riming processes is shifted to a higher altitude in the cloud, but there is no significant change to the integrated latent heat from freezing. Different choices in the treatment of deposition and sublimation processes between the microphysics schemes lead to strong differences including feedbacks onto condensation and evaporation. These changes in the microphysical processes explain some of the response in cloud mass and the altitude of the cloud centre of gravity. However, there remain some contrasts in the development of the bulk cloud parameters between the microphysics schemes and the two simulated cases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2601-2627
Number of pages27
JournalAtmospheric Chemistry and Physics
Volume19
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 28 Feb 2019

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