Continentalization of Winter Convective Clouds Over Central California: Contrasting Case Studies

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Tuesday, 4 February 2014: 2:00 PM
Room C207 (The Georgia World Congress Center )
Daniel Rosenfeld, The Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel; and K. Suski and K. A. Prather

In-situ aircraft measurements of aerosol chemical and cloud microphysical properties were conducted during the CalWater campaign in February and March 2011 over the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the coastal waters of central California. A main objective was to elucidate the impacts of aerosol properties on clouds and precipitation forming processes. In order to accomplish this, we compared contrasting cases of clouds that ingested aerosols from different sources. The results showed that clouds containing pristine oceanic air had low cloud drop concentrations and started to develop rain already 500 m above their base. This occurred both over the ocean and over the Sierra Nevada, mainly in the early morning when the radiatively cooled stable continental boundary layer was decoupled from the cloud base. Supercooled rain dominated the precipitation that formed in growing convective clouds in the pristine air, up to the -21C isotherm level. A contrasting situation was documented in the afternoon over the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, when the clouds ingested high pollution aerosol concentrations produced in the Central Valley. This led to slow growth of the cloud drop effective radius with height and suppressed and even prevented the initiation of warm rain while contributing to the development of ice hydrometeors in the form of graupel. Our results show that CCN and IN were the limiting factors that controlled warm rain and ice processes, respectively, while the unpolluted clouds in the same air mass produced precipitation quite efficiently. These findings provide the motivation for deeper investigations into the nature of the aerosols seeding clouds.