9.1 Cloud Regimes as a Tool for Systematic Study of Various Aerosol-cloud-precipitation Interactions

Thursday, 14 January 2016: 3:30 PM
Room 357 ( New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center)
Lazaros Oreopoulos, NASA/GSFC, Greenbelt, MD; and N. Cho and D. Lee

Systematic changes of clouds and precipitation are notoriously difficult to ascribe to aerosols. This presentation will showcase yet one more attempt to at least credibly detect the signal of aerosol-cloud-precipitation interactions. We surmise that the concept of cloud regimes (CRs) is appropriate to conduct such an investigation. Previous studies focused on what we call here "dynamical" CRs, and while we continue to adopt those too for our analysis, we have found that a different way of organizing cloud systems, namely via "microphysical" regimes is also promising. Our analysis relies on MODIS Collection 6 Level-3 data for clouds and aerosols, and TRMM-TMPA data for precipitation. The regimes are derived by applying clustering analysis on MODIS joint histograms, and once each grid cell is assigned a regime, aerosol and precipitation data can be spatiotemporally matched and composited by regime. The composites of various cloud and precipitation variables for high (upper quartile of distribution) and low (lower quartile) aerosol loadings can then be contrasted. We seek evidence of aerosol effects both in regimes with large fractions of deep ice-rich clouds, as well as regimes where low liquid phase clouds dominate. Signals can be seen, especially when the analysis is broken by land/ocean and when additional filters are applied, but there are of course caveats which will be discussed.
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