Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres

A numerical study of aerosol effects on the dynamics and microphysics of a deep convective cloud in a continental environment

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Abstract

[1] The effects of aerosols on a deep convective cloud in a midlatitude continental environment are studied using an axisymmetric cloud model with a sectional treatment of aerosol and hydrometeor microphysical processes. Simulations are conducted using observations from the Cooperative Convective Precipitation Experiments (CCOPE). The isolated cloud occurred in an environment with low wind shear and with relatively dry air in the midtroposphere and upper troposphere. By varying the concentration of aerosol particles in the accumulation mode within realistic limits for a continental environment, the simulated cloud exhibited different properties. The overall impact as the aerosol concentration increased is that (1) the cloud development was inhibited; (2) the precipitation was suppressed; (3) the maximum values of liquid water content decreased, but the maximum values of droplet number concentration increased before the dissipating stage; (4) a clear tendency was found for ice crystals to be larger and less numerous in the anvil cloud; and (5) there was a significant reduction of the inflow in the lower 2 km of the atmosphere. In the relatively dry environment in the midtroposphere, the latent heat changes associated with the Wegener-Bergeron-Findeisen mechanism played an important role in the upper part of the cloud at altitudes below the homogeneous freezing level. In particular, immersion freezing and latent heat release were much more rapid in the base simulation than in the increased aerosol simulation. Less latent heat release and insufficient inflow together impeded the development of the cloud with the higher aerosol loading. Our simulations suggest that continental clouds existing below the homogeneous freezing level could show an opposite response of cloud top height and anvil crystal concentrations to changes in aerosol to what has previously been reported for clouds ascending to higher levels.

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