92nd American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting (January 22-26, 2012)

Monday, 23 January 2012: 11:45 AM
Biomass Burning Aerosol Effects on Cloud Fraction Over Australia
Room 257 (New Orleans Convention Center )
Jennifer D. Small, JPL, Pasadena, CA; and J. Jiang, H. Su, and C. Zhai

Understanding the complex interactions between aerosol, clouds and dynamics is an important and necessary step towards understanding the climate system and the development of accurate global and regional climate models. Here, we study the relationships between aerosols, clouds, and large scale dynamics over a north coastal Australia (NCA) region and a southeast Australia (SEA) region during the period 2002-2009. We use aerosol optical depth (τa), fire counts, and cloud fraction (fc) from Aqua-MODIS, and NCEP NCAR Reanalysis vertical velocities at 500 mb (ω500) as a proxy for dynamic regime. We find that during biomass burning seasons, fc in both the NCA and SEA regions initially increases with increasing τa, followed by a systematic decrease with higher τa. The variation of fc with τa approximately resembles the aerosol microphysics-radiation-feedback (MRF) theory proposed by Koren et al, (2008). We find that fc in the NCA region is more susceptible to aerosol radiative effects, resulting in significant decreases (~30-35%) in fc at high τa. In the SEA, the microphysical affect of aerosol on fc is more pronounced than the radiative effect, resulting in rapid increase in fc for small τa. By conditionally sorting data by ω500 we are able to identify the role of dynamics in controlling the τa-fc relationship and the rate at which fc changes with τa. We find that the MRF theory better represents the regions with negative ω500 than regions with positive ω500. This indicates that additional processes need to be taken into account in order to fully explain the observed relationships.

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