04 Sep 2023
 | 04 Sep 2023
Status: this preprint is open for discussion and under review for Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP).

Impacts of ice-nucleating particles on cirrus clouds and radiation derived from global model simulations with MADE3 in EMAC

Christof Gerhard Beer, Johannes Hendricks, and Mattia Righi

Abstract. Atmospheric aerosols can act as ice-nucleating particles (INPs) and influence the formation and the microphysical properties of cirrus clouds, resulting in distinct climate effects. We employ a global aerosol–climate model, including a two-moment cloud microphysical scheme and a parametrization for aerosol-induced ice formation in cirrus clouds, to quantify the climate impact of INPs on cirrus clouds. The model considers mineral dust, (aviation) soot, crystalline ammonium sulfate, and glassy organics as INPs in the cirrus regime. A number of sensitivity experiments are performed to analyse various aspects of the simulated INP-cirrus effect regarding (i) the ice-nucleating potential of the INPs, (ii) the inclusion of ammonium sulfate and organic particles as INPs in the model, and (iii) the model representations of vertical updrafts. The resulting global radiative forcing of the total INP-cirrus effect, considering all different INP-types, assuming a smaller and a larger ice nucleating potential of INPs, is simulated as −28 and −55 mW m−2, respectively. While the simulated impact of glassy organic INPs is mostly small and not statistically significant, ammonium sulfate INPs contribute a considerable radiative forcing, which is nearly as large as the combined effect of mineral dust and soot INPs. Additionally, the anthropogenic INP-cirrus effect is analysed considering the difference between present-day (2014) and pre-industrial conditions (1750) and amounts to −29 mW m−2. In an additional sensitivity experiment we analyse the effect of highly efficient INPs proposed for cirrus cloud seeding as a means to reduce global warming by climate engineering. However, the results indicate that this approach risks an overseeding of cirrus clouds and often results in positive radiative forcings. Idealized experiments with prescribed vertical velocities highlight the crucial role of the model dynamics for the simulated INP-cirrus effects, e.g. resulting forcings increase about one order of magnitude when increasing the prescribed vertical velocity. The large discrepancy in the magnitude of the simulated INP-cirrus effect between different model studies emphasizes the need for future detailed analyses and efforts to reduce this uncertainty and constrain the resulting climate impact of INPs.

Christof Gerhard Beer et al.

Status: open (until 15 Nov 2023)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse

Christof Gerhard Beer et al.

Christof Gerhard Beer et al.


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Short summary
Ice-nucleating aerosol particles (INPs) have important influences on cirrus clouds and the climate system; however, the understanding of their global impacts is still uncertain. We perform numerical simulations with a global aerosol-climate model to analyse INP-induced cirrus changes and the resulting climate impact. We evaluate various sources of uncertainties, e.g. the ice-nucleating ability of INPs and the role of model dynamics, and provide a new estimate for the global INP-cirrus effect.