A numerical study of aerosol influence on mixed-phase stratiform clouds through modulation of the liquid phase
1The University of Colorado, Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, Boulder, CO, USA
2NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory, Physical Sciences Division, Boulder, CO, USA
3Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Earth Sciences Division, Berkeley, CA, USA
4University of Tokyo, Atmosphere and Ocean Research Institute, Chiba, Japan
5The University of Wisconsin – Madison, Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, Madison, WI, USA
Abstract. Numerical simulations were carried out in a high-resolution two-dimensional framework to increase our understanding of aerosol indirect effects in mixed-phase stratiform clouds. Aerosol characteristics explored include insoluble particle type, soluble mass fraction, influence of aerosol-induced freezing point depression and influence of aerosol number concentration. Simulations were analyzed with a focus on the processes related to liquid phase microphysics, and ice formation was limited to droplet freezing. Of the aerosol properties investigated, aerosol insoluble mass type and its associated freezing efficiency was found to be most relevant to cloud lifetime. Secondary effects from aerosol soluble mass fraction and number concentration also alter cloud characteristics and lifetime. These alterations occur via various mechanisms, including changes to the amount of nucleated ice, influence on liquid phase precipitation and ice riming rates, and changes to liquid droplet nucleation and growth rates. Alteration of the aerosol properties in simulations with identical initial and boundary conditions results in large variability in simulated cloud thickness and lifetime, ranging from rapid and complete glaciation of liquid to the production of long-lived, thick stratiform mixed-phase cloud.