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Linear relationship between effective radius and precipitation water content near the top of convective clouds

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Braga,  Ramon Campos
Multiphase Chemistry, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Krüger,  Ovid O.
Multiphase Chemistry, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Holanda,  Bruna A.
Multiphase Chemistry, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Pöschl,  Ulrich
Multiphase Chemistry, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Andreae,  Meinrat O.
Multiphase Chemistry, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Pöhlker,  Mira L.
Multiphase Chemistry, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Braga, R. C., Rosenfeld, D., Krüger, O. O., Ervens, B., Holanda, B. A., Wendisch, M., et al. (2021). Linear relationship between effective radius and precipitation water content near the top of convective clouds. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Discussions, 21. doi:10.5194/acp-2021-295.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0008-5003-A
Abstract
Quantifying the precipitation within clouds is a crucial challenge to improve our current understanding of the Earth’s hydrological cycle. We have investigated the relationship between the effective radius of droplets and ice particles (re) and precipitation water content (PWC) measured by cloud probes near the top of growing convective cumuli. The data for this study were collected by aircraft measurements in clean and polluted conditions over the Amazon Basin and over the western tropical Atlantic in September 2014. Our results indicate a threshold of re ∼ 13 μm for warm rain initiation in convective clouds, which is in agreement with previous studies. In clouds over the Atlantic Ocean, warm rain starts at smaller re, likely linked to the enhancement of coalescence of drops formed on giant cloud condensation nuclei. In cloud passes where precipitation starts as ice hydrometeors, the threshold of re is also shifted to values smaller than 13 μm when coalescence processes are suppressed and precipitating particles are formed by accretion. We found a statistically significant linear relationship between PWC and re for measurements at cloud tops, with a correlation coefficient of ∼0.94. The tight relationship between re and PWC was established only when particles with sizes large enough to precipitate (drizzle and raindrops) are included in calculating re. Our results emphasize for the first time that re is a key parameter to determine both initiation and amount of precipitation at the top of convective clouds.