Properties and Controlling Processes of Aerosol and Cloud Condensation Nuclei in Marine Boundary Layer Over Eastern North Atlantic

 

Principal Investigator

Jian Wang — Washington University in St. Louis

Co-Investigator

Xiaohong Liu — Texas A&M University

Abstract

Remote marine low cloud systems have large spatial and temporal coverages. Because of their relatively low optical thickness and background aerosol concentrations, marine low clouds are particularly susceptible to perturbations in aerosols associated with anthropogenic emissions. Recent studies show that a large fraction of the global aerosol indirect forcing can be attributed to changes in marine low clouds, despite their relatively long distance from most anthropogenic sources. Currently, there remain large uncertainties in the magnitude of the global aerosol indirect radiative forcing. One major contribution to this large uncertainty derives from poor understanding of the aerosols under natural conditions, the perturbation by anthropogenic emissions, and the processes that drive them.

The objective of this project is to (1) quantify the properties and processes of marine boundary layer aerosol and cloud condensation nuclei in the Eastern North Atlantic for different seasons, representative synoptic states and airmasses; and (2) to evaluate and improve the representation of marine boundary layer aerosol and cloud condensation nuclei in the Department of Energy’s Energy Exascale Earth System Model (E3SM). The overall approach is to synergistically combine in situ measurements, remote sensing retrievals, and model simulations. We will take advantage of the comprehensive, multi-dimensional characterization of meteorological parameters, trace gases, aerosol, cloud, and drizzle fields during the recent Aerosol and Cloud Experiments in Eastern North Atlantic (ACE-ENA) and the long-term measurements at the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) facility Eastern North Atlantic site on Graciosa Island in the Azores.

This project will produce three outcomes: (1) quantification of aerosol properties in the Eastern North Atlantic, their vertical profiles, and variations with season, synoptic state, and airmass; (2) predictive understanding of key aerosol processes, including entrainment of free troposphere aerosol into marine boundary layer, new particle formation, growth of Aitken mode particles, and sea spray aerosol production, and the influences of these processes on the cloud condensation nuclei population in marine boundary layer; and (3) evaluation and improvement of the representation of key aerosol processes in E3SM. These outcomes will improve the capability of E3SM to predict aerosol and cloud condensation nuclei properties in marine boundary layer under natural conditions and the influence from anthropogenic emissions, and therefore aerosol indirect effects.

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