Biomass burning aerosol heating rates from the ORACLES (ObseRvations of...

Cochrane, S. P., K. S. Schmidt, H. Chen, P. Pilewskie, S. Kittelman, J. Redemann, S. LeBlanc, K. Pistone, M. Segal-Rozenhaimer, M. S. Kacenelenbogen, Y. Shinozuka, C. Flynn, R. Ferrare, S. Burton, C. Hostetler, M. Mallet, and P. Zuidema (2022), Biomass burning aerosol heating rates from the ORACLES (ObseRvations of Aerosols above CLouds and their intEractionS) 2016 and 2017 experiments, Atmos. Meas. Tech., 15, 61-77, doi:10.5194/amt-15-61-2022.

Aerosol heating due to shortwave absorption has implications for local atmospheric stability and regional dynamics. The derivation of heating rate profiles from spacebased observations is challenging because it requires the vertical profile of relevant properties such as the aerosol extinction coefficient and single-scattering albedo (SSA). In the southeastern Atlantic, this challenge is amplified by the presence of stratocumulus clouds below the biomass burning plume advected from Africa, since the cloud properties affect the magnitude of the aerosol heating aloft, which may in turn lead to changes in the cloud properties and life cycle. The combination of spaceborne lidar data with passive imagers shows promise for future derivations of heating rate profiles and curtains, but new algorithms require careful testing with data from aircraft experiments where measurements of radiation, aerosol, and cloud parameters are better colocated and readily available.

In this study, we derive heating rate profiles and vertical cross sections (curtains) from aircraft measurements during the NASA ObseRvations of Aerosols above CLouds and their intEractionS (ORACLES) project in the southeastern Atlantic. Spectrally resolved irradiance measurements and the derived column absorption allow for the separation of total heating rates into aerosol and gas (primarily water vapor) absorption. The nine cases we analyzed capture some of the co-variability of heating rate profiles and their primary drivers, leading to the development of a new concept: the heating rate efficiency (HRE; the heating rate per unit aerosol extinction). HRE, which accounts for the overall aerosol loading as well as vertical distribution of the aerosol layer, varies little with altitude as opposed to the standard heating rate. The large case-to-case variability for ORACLES is significantly reduced after converting from heating rate to HRE, allowing us to quantify its dependence on SSA, cloud albedo, and solar zenith angle.

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Atmospheric Composition
Radiation Science Program (RSP)