21 Jun 2024
 | 21 Jun 2024
Status: this preprint is open for discussion and under review for Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP).

The Impact of Aerosol on Cloud Water: A Heuristic Perspective

Fabian Hoffmann, Franziska Glassmeier, and Graham Feingold

Abstract. Aerosol-cloud interactions modulate the role of clouds in Earth's climate. We derive, evaluate, and apply a simple model to understand aerosol-mediated cloud water adjustments in stratocumulus based on only two prognostic equations for the integrated cloud water L and droplet number concentration N. The model is solved numerically and analytically, and agrees well with documented large-eddy simulation data and satellite retrievals. A tight relationship between adjustments at low and high N is found, revealing the influence of non-precipitation processes (primarily entrainment) on adjustments in precipitating clouds. Furthermore, it is shown that adjustments in non-precipitating clouds tend to be positively biased by external L or N perturbations, while adjustments in precipitating clouds are barely susceptible. By deliberately reducing the complexity of the underlying system, this study constitutes a way forward to facilitate process-level understanding of cloud water adjustments.

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Fabian Hoffmann, Franziska Glassmeier, and Graham Feingold

Status: open (until 15 Aug 2024)

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Fabian Hoffmann, Franziska Glassmeier, and Graham Feingold
Fabian Hoffmann, Franziska Glassmeier, and Graham Feingold


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Short summary
Clouds constitute a major cooling influence on Earth's climate system by reflecting a large fraction of the incident solar radiation back to space. This ability is controlled by the number of cloud droplets, which is governed by the number of aerosol particles in the atmosphere, laying out the foundation for so-called aerosol-cloud-climate interactions. In this study, a simple model to understand the effect of aerosol on cloud water is developed and applied.