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Published November 2005 | Published
Journal Article Open

Study of the Aerosol Indirect Effect by Large-Eddy Simulation of Marine Stratocumulus


A total of 98 three-dimensional large-eddy simulations (LESs) of marine stratocumulus clouds covering both nighttime and daytime conditions were performed to explore the response of cloud optical depth (τ) to various aerosol number concentrations (Na = 50–2500 cm−3) and the covarying meteorological conditions (large-scale divergence rate and SST). The idealized First International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project (ISCCP) Regional Experiment (FIRE) and the Atlantic Stratocumulus Transition Experiment (ASTEX) Lagrangian 1 sounding profiles were used to represent the lightly and heavily drizzling cases, respectively. The first and second aerosol indirect effects are identified. Through statistical analysis, τ is found be to both positively correlated with Na and cloud liquid water path (LWP) with a higher correlation associated with LWP, which is predominantly regulated by large-scale subsidence and SST. Clouds with high LWP occur under low SST or weak large-scale subsidence. Introduction of a small amount of giant sea salt aerosol into the simulation lowers the number of cloud droplets activated, results in larger cloud droplets, and initiates precipitation for nondrizzling polluted clouds or precedes the precipitation process for drizzling clouds. However, giant sea salt aerosol is found to have a negligible effect on τ for lightly precipitating cases, while resulting in a relative reduction of τ of 3%–77% (increasing with Na, for Na = 1000–2500 cm−3) for heavily precipitating cases, suggesting that the impact of giant sea salt is only important for moist and potentially convective clouds. Finally, a regression analysis of the simulations shows that the second indirect effect is more evident in clear than polluted cases. The second indirect effect is found to enhance (reduce) the overall aerosol indirect effect for heavily (lightly) drizzling clouds; that is, τ is larger (smaller) for the same relative change in Na than considering the Twomey (first indirect) effect alone. The aerosol indirect effect (on τ) is lessened in the daytime afternoon conditions and is dominated by the Twomey effect; however, the effect in the early morning is close but slightly smaller than that in the nocturnal run. Diurnal variations of the aerosol indirect effect should be considered to accurately assess its magnitude.

Additional Information

© 2006 American Meteorological Society Manuscript received 13 July 2004, in final form 1 February 2005 This work was supported by Office of Naval Research Grant N-00014-96-1-0119. The authors especially appreciate comments from Dr. Graham Feingold. We also acknowledge computational resources from Caltech Center for Advanced Computing Research.

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