Time-dependent entrainment of smoke presents an observational challenge for...

Diamond, M., A. Dobracki, S. Freitag, J. S. Griswold, A. Heikkila, S. Howell, M. Kacarab, J. Podolske, Saide Peralta, and R. Wood (2018), Time-dependent entrainment of smoke presents an observational challenge for assessing aerosol–cloud interactions over the southeast Atlantic Ocean, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 18, 14623-14636, doi:10.5194/acp-18-14623-2018.

The colocation of clouds and smoke over the southeast Atlantic Ocean during the southern African biomass burning season has numerous radiative implications, including microphysical modulation of the clouds if smoke is entrained into the marine boundary layer. NASA’s ObseRvations of Aerosols above CLouds and their intEractionS (ORACLES) campaign is studying this system with aircraft in three field deployments between 2016 and 2018. Results from ORACLES-2016 show that the relationship between cloud droplet number concentration and smoke below cloud is consistent with previously reported values, whereas cloud droplet number concentration is only weakly associated with smoke immediately above cloud at the time of observation. By combining field observations, regional chemistry–climate modeling, and theoretical boundary layer aerosol budget equations, we show that the history of smoke entrainment (which has a characteristic mixing timescale on the order of days) helps explain variations in cloud properties for similar instantaneous above-cloud smoke environments. Precipitation processes can obscure the relationship between abovecloud smoke and cloud properties in parts of the southeast Atlantic, but marine boundary layer carbon monoxide concentrations for two case study flights suggest that smoke entrainment history drove the observed differences in cloud properties for those days. A Lagrangian framework following the clouds and accounting for the history of smoke entrainment and precipitation is likely necessary for quantitatively studying this system; an Eulerian framework (e.g., instantaneous correlation of A-train satellite observations) is unlikely to capture the true extent of smoke–cloud interaction in the southeast Atlantic.

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