Diurnal variation of aerosol indirect effect for warm marine boundary layer clouds in the eastern north Atlantic
Abstract. Warm boundary layer clouds in the Eastern North Atlantic region exhibit significant diurnal variations in cloud properties. However, the diurnal cycle of the aerosol indirect effect (AIE) for these clouds remains poorly understood. This study takes advantage of recent advancements in the spatial resolution of geostationary satellites to explore the diurnal cycle of AIE by estimating the cloud susceptibilities to changes in cloud droplet number concentration (Nd). Cloud retrievals for four months of July (2018–2021) from SEVIRI on Meteosat-11 over this region are analyzed. Our results reveal a significant "U-shaped" daytime cycle in susceptibilities of cloud liquid water path (LWP), cloud albedo, and cloud fraction. Clouds are found to be more susceptible to Nd perturbations at noon and less susceptible in the morning and evening. The magnitude and sign of cloud susceptibilities depend heavily on the cloud state defined by cloud LWP and precipitation conditions. Non-precipitating thin clouds account for 44 % of all warm boundary layer clouds in July and they contribute the most to the observed diurnal variation. Non-precipitating thick clouds are the least frequent cloud state (10 %), they exhibit more negative LWP and albedo susceptibilities compared to thin clouds. Precipitating clouds are the dominant cloud state (46 %), but their cloud susceptibilities show minimal variation throughout the day.
We find evidence that the diurnal cycle of LWP and albedo susceptibilities for non-precipitating clouds are influenced by a combination of the diurnal transition between non-precipitating thick and thin clouds and the "lagged" cloud responses to Nd perturbations. The diurnal cycle in cloud fraction susceptibility for non-precipitating thick clouds can be attributed to the diurnal variation in cloud morphology (e.g., overcast or broken). The dissipation and development of clouds do not adequately explain the observed variation in cloud susceptibilities. Additionally, diurnal variation of cloud susceptibility is primarily driven by variation in the intensity of cloud response rather than the frequency of occurrence of cloud states. Our results imply that polar-orbiting satellites with overpass time at 13:30 local time underestimate daytime mean value of cloud susceptibility, as they observe susceptibility daily minima in the study region.
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