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J Geophys Res Atmos. 2018 Jan 16;123(1):457-472. doi: 10.1002/2017JD027187. Epub 2018 Jan 10.

Using Long-Term Satellite Observations to Identify Sensitive Regimes and Active Regions of Aerosol Indirect Effects for Liquid Clouds Over Global Oceans.

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National Centers for Environmental InformationNOAA/NESDISSilver SpringMDUSA.
Environmental and Climate Sciences DepartmentBrookhaven National LaboratoryUptonNYUSA.
Atmospheric Sciences Research CenterState University of New York at AlbanyAlbanyNYUSA.
Center for Satellite Applications and ResearchNOAA/NESDISMadisonWIUSA.


Long-term (1981-2011) satellite climate data records of clouds and aerosols are used to investigate the aerosol-cloud interaction of marine water cloud from a climatology perspective. Our focus is on identifying the regimes and regions where the aerosol indirect effects (AIEs) are evident in long-term averages over the global oceans through analyzing the correlation features between aerosol loading and the key cloud variables including cloud droplet effective radius (CDER), cloud optical depth (COD), cloud water path (CWP), cloud top height (CTH), and cloud top temperature (CTT). An aerosol optical thickness (AOT) range of 0.13 < AOT < 0.3 is identified as the sensitive regime of the conventional first AIE where CDER is more susceptible to AOT than the other cloud variables. The first AIE that manifests as the change of long-term averaged CDER appears only in limited oceanic regions. The signature of aerosol invigoration of water clouds as revealed by the increase of cloud cover fraction (CCF) and CTH with increasing AOT at the middle/high latitudes of both hemispheres is identified for a pristine atmosphere (AOT < 0.08). Aerosol invigoration signature is also revealed by the concurrent increase of CDER, COD, and CWP with increasing AOT for a polluted marine atmosphere (AOT > 0.3) in the tropical convergence zones. The regions where the second AIE is likely to manifest in the CCF change are limited to several oceanic areas with high CCF of the warm water clouds near the western coasts of continents. The second AIE signature as represented by the reduction of the precipitation efficiency with increasing AOT is more likely to be observed in the AOT regime of 0.08 < AOT < 0.4. The corresponding AIE active regions manifested themselves as the decline of the precipitation efficiency are mainly limited to the oceanic areas downwind of continental aerosols. The sensitive regime of the conventional AIE identified in this observational study is likely associated with the transitional regime from the aerosol-limited regime to the updraft-limited regime identified for aerosol-cloud interaction in cloud model simulations.


AVHRR; aerosol indirect effect; climate data record; satellite

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