Anthropogenic radiative forcing of marine stratocumulus clouds under different thermodynamic conditions-An LES model study

Keunyong Song, Seong Soo Yum

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A LES model with bin microphysics was used to investigate the aerosol indirect effects of marine stratocumulus clouds that develop under different thermodynamic conditions. The diurnal contrasts of cloud development were also examined in detail. Three observed CCN spectra that represent maritime, continental and polluted air masses were used as input CCN spectra. Two observed thermodynamic soundings and two derived ones from the observed soundings to vary the inversion altitude were used as initial thermodynamic conditions. With these initial conditions the model was run for the daytime and nocturnal conditions to make the total number of model runs to be 24. For both daytime and nocturnal conditions, the cloud depth and liquid water path (LWP) varied with the thermodynamic soundings. For a given thermodynamic sounding, LWP tended to be similar or slightly smaller for polluted. However, cloud top radiative cooling is stronger for polluted due to smaller sizes of cloud droplets and therefore turbulent mixing is stronger for polluted. However, there were significant differences in LWP between the daytime and nocturnal clouds. For the daytime condition, the cloud became decoupled from the surface layer and moisture supply was limited for all soundings. In contrast, with the absence of solar radiation, cloud top radiative cooling was much stronger, turbulent mixing was also much stronger and therefore no decoupling occurred and clouds were thicker with greater LWP in the nocturnal runs. To note is the derived thermodynamic sounding (named MH) that produced the thickest clouds: the clouds were too thick to be maintained as a single layer cloud and became multi-layered for the daytime condition while the maritime stratocumulus cloud broke up into a cumuliform cloud due to heavy drizzle for the nocturnal condition. From the daytime run results, the anthropogenic cloud radiative forcing was calculated by subtracting the net cloud radiative forcing for maritime from that for polluted. It amounted to be -21.6Wm -2 for MH but was more than a factor of two larger for all three other soundings, -56.4, -55.4 and -55.7Wm -2. For the MH sounding, the LWP was noticeably smaller for polluted than for maritime, the relative difference of the effective radii between maritime and polluted was small and therefore albedo difference between the two was also small, compared to those for the other three soundings. Notable is the similar magnitude of the anthropogenic cloud radiative forcing for these three soundings despite the significant differences in cloud depths among the clouds produced by these soundings. This may imply that there may be an optimal range of cloud depth that can produce a strong anthropogenic cloud radiative forcing. The cloud depths were smaller than 150m for the thermodynamic sounding that produced the shallowest clouds but it seemed to be within the optimal range.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)370-389
Number of pages20
JournalAtmospheric Research
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Nov 15

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was funded by the Korea Meteorological Administration Research and Development Program under Grant CATER_2012-3051 . The authors would like to deeply thank Dr. Yefim Kogan of University of Oklahoma/Scripps Institute of Oceanography for generously providing us his LES model code.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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