Effect of aerosol pollution on clouds and its dependence on precipitation intensity

Seoung Soo Lee, Byung Gon Kim, Chulkyu Lee, Seong Soo Yum, Derek Posselt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Citations (Scopus)


In this study, simulations performed with a large-eddy resolving numerical model are used to examine the effect of aerosol on cumulus clouds, and how this effect varies with precipitation intensity. By systematically varying the surface moisture fluxes, the modeled precipitation rate is forced to change from weak to strong intensity. For each of these intensities, simulations of a high-aerosol case (a polluted case with a higher aerosol concentration) and a low-aerosol case (a clean case with a lower aerosol concentration) are performed. Whether or not precipitation and associated sub-cloud evaporation and convective available potential energy (CAPE) are large, liquid-water path (LWP) is larger in the high-aerosol case than in the low-aerosol case over the first two-thirds of the entire simulation period. In weak precipitation cases, reduction in aerosol content leads to changes in CAPE in the middle parts of cloud layers, which in turn induces larger LWP in the low-aerosol case over the last third of the simulation period. With strong precipitation, stronger stabilization of the sub-cloud layers in the low-aerosol case counters the CAPE changes in the middle parts of cloud layers, inducing smaller LWP in the low-aerosol case over the last third of the simulation period. The results highlight an interaction between aerosol effects on CAPE above cloud base and those in sub-cloud layers, and indicate the importance of a consideration of aerosol effects on CAPE above cloud base as well as those in sub-cloud layers. In the high-aerosol case, near the beginning of the simulation period, larger environmental CAPE does not necessarily lead to larger in-cloud CAPE and associated larger cloud intensity because aerosol-induced increase in cloud population enhances competition among clouds for the environmental CAPE. This demonstrates the importance of the consideration of cloud population for an improved parameterization of convective clouds in climate models.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)557-577
Number of pages21
JournalClimate Dynamics
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Feb 1


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science

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