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Keywords:

  • aerosol-cloud interaction;
  • cloud microphysics;
  • precipitation process

[1] This study demonstrates how aerosols influence the liquid precipitation formation process. This demonstration is provided by the combined use of satellite observations and global high-resolution model simulations. Methodologies developed to examine the warm cloud microphysical processes are applied to both multi-sensor satellite observations and aerosol-coupled global cloud-resolving model (GCRM) results to illustrate how the warm rain formation process is modulated under different aerosol conditions. The observational analysis exhibits process-scale signatures of rain suppression due to increased aerosols, providing observational evidence of the aerosol influence on precipitation. By contrast, the corresponding statistics obtained from the model show a much faster rain formation even for polluted aerosol conditions and much weaker reduction of precipitation in response to aerosol increase. It is then shown that this reduced sensitivity points to a fundamental model bias in the warm rain formation process that in turn biases the influence of aerosol on precipitation. A method of improving the model bias is introduced in the context of a simplified single-column model (SCM) that represents the cloud-to-rain water conversion process in a manner similar to the original GCRM. Sensitivity experiments performed by modifying the model assumptions in the SCM and their comparisons to satellite statistics both suggest that the auto-conversion scheme has a critical role in determining the precipitation response to aerosol perturbations and also provide a novel way of constraining key parameters in the auto-conversion schemes of global models.