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Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 18, issue 3 | Copyright
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 18, 1763-1783, 2018
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-18-1763-2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 07 Feb 2018

Research article | 07 Feb 2018

Estimating precipitation susceptibility in warm marine clouds using multi-sensor aerosol and cloud products from A-Train satellites

Heming Bai1,2, Cheng Gong3, Minghuai Wang1,2, Zhibo Zhang4, and Tristan L'Ecuyer5 Heming Bai et al.
  • 1Institute for Climate and Global Change Research and School of Atmospheric Sciences, Nanjing University, Nanjing, China
  • 2Collaborative Innovation Center of Climate Change, Jiangsu, China
  • 3Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Science, Beijing, China
  • 4Physics Department, University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), Baltimore, MD, USA
  • 5Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, USA

Abstract. Precipitation susceptibility to aerosol perturbation plays a key role in understanding aerosol–cloud interactions and constraining aerosol indirect effects. However, large discrepancies exist in the previous satellite estimates of precipitation susceptibility. In this paper, multi-sensor aerosol and cloud products, including those from the Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observation (CALIPSO), CloudSat, Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), and Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer for the Earth Observing System (AMSR-E) from June 2006 to April 2011 are analyzed to estimate precipitation frequency susceptibility SPOP, precipitation intensity susceptibility SI, and precipitation rate susceptibility SR in warm marine clouds. We find that SPOP strongly depends on atmospheric stability, with larger values under more stable environments. Our results show that precipitation susceptibility for drizzle (with a −15dBZ rainfall threshold) is significantly different than that for rain (with a 0dBZ rainfall threshold). Onset of drizzle is not as readily suppressed in warm clouds as rainfall while precipitation intensity susceptibility is generally smaller for rain than for drizzle. We find that SPOP derived with respect to aerosol index (AI) is about one-third of SPOP derived with respect to cloud droplet number concentration (CDNC). Overall, SPOP demonstrates relatively robust features throughout independent liquid water path (LWP) products and diverse rain products. In contrast, the behaviors of SI and SR are subject to LWP or rain products used to derive them. Recommendations are further made for how to better use these metrics to quantify aerosol–cloud–precipitation interactions in observations and models.

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Precipitation susceptibility to aerosol perturbation plays a key role in understanding aerosol–cloud interactions and for constraining aerosol indirect effects. Here, multisensor aerosol and cloud products from A-Train satellites are analyzed to estimate precipitation susceptibility. Compared to precipitation intensity susceptibility, precipitation frequency susceptibility demonstrates relatively robust features across different retrieval products.
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