AbstractAerosol vertical distribution plays a crucial role in cloud development and thus precipitation since both aerosol indirect and semi-direct effects significantly depend on the relative position of aerosol layer in reference to cloud, but its precise influence on cloud remains unclear. In this study, we integrated multi-year Raman Lidar measurements of aerosol vertical profiles from the U.S. Department of Energy Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) facility with available Value-Added Products of cloud features to characterize aerosol vertical distributions and their impacts on warm clouds over the continental and marine ARM atmospheric observatories, i.e., Southern Great Plains (SGP) and Eastern North Atlantic (ENA). A unimodal seasonal distribution of aerosol optical depths (AODs) with a peak in summer is found at upper boundary layer over SGP, while a bimodal distribution is observed at ENA for the AODs at lower levels with a major winter-spring maximum. The diurnal mean of upper-level AOD at SGP shows a maximum in the early evening. According to the relative positions of aerosol layers to clouds we further identify three primary aerosol vertical distribution types, including Random, Decreasing, and Bottom. It is found that the impacts of aerosols on cloud may or may not vary with aerosol vertical distribution depending on environmental conditions, as reflected by the wide variations of the relations between AOD and cloud properties. For example, as AOD increases, the cloud layers always get geometrically thicker at both sites, and the liquid water paths tend to be reduced at SGP but enhanced at ENA. The responses of cloud droplet effective radius to AOD largely depend on aerosol vertical distributions, particularly showing a decreasing in the Random type. The distinct features of aerosol-cloud interactions in relation to aerosol vertical distribution are likely attributed to the continental-marine contrast in thermodynamic environments and aerosol conditions between SGP and ENA.
Published: September 14, 2023