AbstractContiguous time-height cloud objects at the Department of Energy Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Southern Great Plains site are matched with surface condensation nuclei (CN) concentrations and retrieved thermodynamic and kinematic vertical profiles for warm cloud base, cold cloud top systems in convectively unstable environments. Statistical analyses show that previously published conclusions that increasing CN concentrations cause a decrease in minimum cloud top temperature (CTT) at the SGP site through the aerosol convective invigoration effect are unfounded. The CN-CTT relationship is statistically insignificant, while correlations between convective available energy (CAPE), level of neutral buoyancy (LNB), and CN concentration account for most of the change in the CN-CTT positive correlation. Removal of clouds with minimum CTTs > -36°C from the analysis eliminates the CN-CTT correlation. Composited dirty conditions at the SGP have ~1°C warmer low levels and ~1°C cooler upper levels than clean conditions. This correlation between aerosol concentrations and thermodynamic profiles may be caused by an increase in regional rainfall preceding deep convective conditions as CN concentration decreases. Increased rainfall can be expected to increase wet deposition of aerosols, cool low-level temperatures, and warm upper level temperatures. The masking of a potential aerosol effect by such small thermodynamic changes implies that the strategy of analyzing subsets of aerosol data by binned meteorological factor values is not a valid method for discerning an aerosol effect in some situations. These findings highlight the need for more careful, detailed, and strategic observations to confidently isolate and quantify an aerosol deep convective invigoration effect.
Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences – American Meteorological Society
Published: Mar 2, 2018
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