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The signature of aerosols and meteorology in long-term cloud radar observations of trade-wind cumuli

MPS-Authors
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Lonitz,  Katrin
Observations and Process Studies, The Atmosphere in the Earth System, MPI for Meteorology, Max Planck Society;
IMPRS on Earth System Modelling, MPI for Meteorology, Max Planck Society;

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Stevens,  Bjorn
Director’s Research Group AES, The Atmosphere in the Earth System, MPI for Meteorology, Max Planck Society;

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Nuijens,  Louise
Observations and Process Studies, The Atmosphere in the Earth System, MPI for Meteorology, Max Planck Society;

Sant ,  Vivek
Observations and Process Studies, The Atmosphere in the Earth System, MPI for Meteorology, Max Planck Society;

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Hirsch,  Lutz
Observations and Process Studies, The Atmosphere in the Earth System, MPI for Meteorology, Max Planck Society;

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Fulltext (public)

JAS-D-14-0348.1
(Publisher version), 103KB

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Citation

Lonitz, K., Stevens, B., Nuijens, L., Sant, V., Hirsch, L., & Seifert, A. (2015). The signature of aerosols and meteorology in long-term cloud radar observations of trade-wind cumuli. Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences, 72, 4643-4659. doi:10.1175/JAS-D-14-0348.1.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0015-79F0-D
Abstract
The signature of aerosols and meteorology on the development of precipitation from shallow cumuli in the trades is investigated with ground-based lidar and radar remote sensing. The measurements are taken from a cloud observatory recently established on the windward shore of Barbados. Cloud microphysical development is explored through an analysis of the radar echo of shallow cumuli before the development of active precipitation. The increase of reflectivity with height (Z gradient) depends on the amount of cloud water, which varies with meteorology, and cloud droplet number concentration N, which varies with the aerosol. Clouds with a large Z gradient have a higher tendency to form precipitation than clouds with a small Z gradient. Under similar meteorological conditions, the Z gradient is expected to be large in an environment with few aerosols and small in an environment with many aerosols. The aerosol environment is defined using three methods, but only one (based on the Raman lidar linear-depolarization ratio) to measure dusty conditions correlates significantly with the Z gradient. On average, nondusty days are characterized by a larger Z gradient. However, the dust concentration varies seasonally and covaries with relative humidity. Large-eddy simulations show that small changes in the relative humidity can have as much influence on the development of precipitation within the cloud layer as large changes in N. When clouds are conditioned on their ambient relative humidity, the sensitivity of the Z gradient to dust vanishes.