Tuesday, 25 January 2011: 1:30 PM
605/610 (Washington State Convention Center)
Recent observational and modeling studies indicate that aerosols may have a strong effect on Earth's energy budget via their influence on mixed-phase clouds. Global climate studies have predicted aerosol interaction with mixed-phase clouds to warm the current climate, but estimates are uncertain because mixed-phase cloud processes in GCMs are highly parameterized and have to date been poorly constrained by satellite data. Here, we present global and regional distributions of the frequency of supercooled cloud water and its link to aerosols from two global climate models (GCMs), compared to a new satellite data set. Both GCMs link ice formation at temperatures between -40 and 0 degrees C to the simulated concentrations of aerosols with ice nucleating ability (IN), assigning different freezing efficiencies to the different insoluble aerosol species (mineral dust, bio-aerosols and soot). Consequently, both models generally simulate an anti-correlation between aerosol abundance and supercooled liquid water in clouds, a finding that was recently qualitatively confirmed by satellite observations. By studying the relationship between aerosols and the supercooled cloud fraction (SCF) from the GCMs and from the NASA spaceborne lidar instrument CALIOP (cloud-aerosol lidar with orthogonal polarization), we get strong indications of how aerosols may influence mixed-phase clouds. Furthermore, based on the guidance from the satellite data, we perform global simulations of the radiative effects associated with aerosol influence on mixed-phase clouds. We argue that with the new validation of SCF and its link to aerosols, GCM estimates of aerosol effects on climate via their influence on mixed-phase clouds have become more reliable.
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