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The Convolution of Dynamics and Moisture with the Presence of Shortwave...

Adebiyi, A., P. Zuidema, and S. Abel (2015), The Convolution of Dynamics and Moisture with the Presence of Shortwave Absorbing Aerosols over the Southeast Atlantic, J. Climate, 28, 1997-2024, doi:10.1175/JCLI-D-14-00352.1.

Biomass burning aerosols seasonally overlie the subtropical southeast Atlantic stratocumulus deck. Previous modeling and observational studies have postulated a semidirect effect whereby shortwave absorption by the aerosol warms and stabilizes the lower troposphere, thickening the low-level clouds. The focus herein is on the dynamical and moisture effects that may be convoluted with the semidirect effect. Almost-daily radiosonde data from remote St. Helena Island (15.98S, 5.68W), covering September–October 2000–11, are combined with daily spatial averages (encompassing the island) of the MODIS clear-sky fine-mode aerosol optical depth (taf ). Increases in taf are associated with increases in 750–500-hPa moisture content. The net maximum longwave cooling by moisture of almost 0.45 K day21 reduces the aerosol layer warming from shortwave absorption. ERA-Interim spatial composites show that polluted conditions are associated with a strengthening of a deep land-based anticyclone over southern Africa, facilitating the westward offshore transport of both smoke and moisture at 600 hPa. The shallower surface-based South Atlantic anticyclone exhibits a less pronounced shift to the northeast, strengthening the low-level coastal jet exiting into the stratocumulus deck and cooling 1000-hPa potential temperatures. Warm continental outflow further increases the 800-hPa potential temperatures (u800 ), reinforcing the lower tropospheric stability (u800 2 u1000 ) over the stratocumulus deck. Enhanced southerly dry air advection also strengthens the cloud-top humidity inversion. The increased stability helps explain an observed decrease in cloud-top heights despite an anomalous reduction in subsidence. The changes to the horizontal dynamics enhance low-level cloudiness. These are separate but not necessarily distinct from an aerosol semidirect effect, encouraging care in attribution studies.

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