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Exploring the elevated water vapor signal associated with the free-tropospheric...

Pistone, K., P. Zuidema, R. Wood, M. Diamond, A. da Silva, Guajardo Ferrada, Saide Peralta, R. Ueyama, J. Ryoo, L. Pfister, J. Podolske, D. Noone, R. Bennett, E. Stith, G. Carmichael, J. Redemann, C. Flynn, S. LeBlanc, M. Segal-Rozenhaimer, and Y. Shinozuka (2021), Exploring the elevated water vapor signal associated with the free-tropospheric biomass burning plume over the southeast Atlantic Ocean, Atmos. Chem. Phys., doi:10.5194/acp-2020-1322 (submitted).

In southern Africa, widespread agricultural fires produce substantial biomass burning (BB) emissions over the region. The seasonal smoke plumes associated with these emissions are then advected westward over the persistent stratocumulus cloud deck in the Southeast Atlantic (SEA) Ocean, resulting in aerosol effects which vary with time and location. Much work has focused on the effects of these aerosol plumes, but previous studies have also described an elevated free-tropospheric water vapor signal over the SEA. Water vapor influences climate in its own right, and it is especially important to consider atmospheric water vapor when quantifying aerosol-cloud interactions and aerosol radiative effects. Here we present airborne observations made during the NASA ORACLES (ObseRvations of Aerosols above CLouds and their intEractionS) campaign over the SEA Ocean. In observations collected from multiple independent instruments on the NASA P-3 aircraft (from nearsurface to 6-7km), we observe a strongly linear correlation between pollution indicators (carbon monoxide (CO) and aerosol loading) and atmospheric water vapor content, seen at all altitudes above the boundary layer. The focus of the current study is on the especially strong correlation observed during the ORACLES-2016 deployment (out of Walvis Bay, Namibia), but a similar relationship is also observed in the August 2017 and October 2018 ORACLES deployments.

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Research Program: 
Atmospheric Composition
Radiation Science Program (RSP)