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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 Mar 27;104(13):5295-9. Epub 2007 Mar 20.

Intensification of Pacific storm track linked to Asian pollution.

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Department of Atmospheric Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843, USA.


Indirect radiative forcing of atmospheric aerosols by modification of cloud processes poses the largest uncertainty in climate prediction. We show here a trend of increasing deep convective clouds over the Pacific Ocean in winter from long-term satellite cloud measurements (1984-2005). Simulations with a cloud-resolving weather research and forecast model reveal that the increased deep convective clouds are reproduced when accounting for the aerosol effect from the Asian pollution outflow, which leads to large-scale enhanced convection and precipitation and hence an intensified storm track over the Pacific. We suggest that the wintertime Pacific is highly vulnerable to the aerosol-cloud interaction because of favorable cloud dynamical and microphysical conditions from the coupling between the Pacific storm track and Asian pollution outflow. The intensified Pacific storm track is climatically significant and represents possibly the first detected climate signal of the aerosol-cloud interaction associated with anthropogenic pollution. In addition to radiative forcing on climate, intensification of the Pacific storm track likely impacts the global general circulation due to its fundamental role in meridional heat transport and forcing of stationary waves.

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