A framework is introduced to investigate the indirect effect of aerosol loading on tropical deep convection using three-dimensional limited-domain idealized cloud-system-resolving model simulations coupled with large-scale dynamics over fixed sea surface temperature. The large-scale circulation is parameterized using the spectral weak temperature gradient (WTG) approximation that utilizes the dominant balance between adiabatic cooling and diabatic heating in the tropics. The aerosol loading effect is examined by varying the number of cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) available to form cloud droplets in the two-moment bulk microphysics scheme over a wide range of environments from 30 to 5000 cm−3. The radiative heating is held at a constant prescribed rate in order to isolate the microphysical effects. Analyses are performed over the period after equilibrium is achieved between convection and the large-scale environment. Mean precipitation is found to decrease modestly and monotonically when the aerosol number concentration increases as convection gets weaker, despite the increase in cloud liquid water in the warm-rain region and ice crystals aloft. This reduction is traced down to the reduction in surface enthalpy fluxes as an energy source to the atmospheric column induced by the coupling of the large-scale motion, though the gross moist stability remains constant. Increasingmore »
The radiative cooling rate in the tropical upper troposphere is expected to increase as climate warms. Since the tropics are approximately in radiative–convective equilibrium (RCE), this implies an increase in the convective heating rate, which is the sum of the latent heating rate and the eddy heat flux convergence. We examine the impact of these changes on the vertical profile of cloud ice amount in cloud-resolving simulations of RCE. Three simulations are conducted: a control run, a warming run, and an experimental run in which there is no warming but a temperature forcing is imposed to mimic the warming-induced increase in radiative cooling. Surface warming causes a reduction in cloud fraction at all upper-tropospheric temperature levels but an increase in the ice mixing ratio within deep convective cores. The experimental run has more cloud ice than the warming run at fixed temperature despite the fact that their latent heating rates are equal, which suggests that the efficiency of latent heating by cloud ice increases with warming. An analytic expression relating the ice-related latent heating rate to a number of other factors is derived and used to understand the model results. This reveals that the increase in latent heating efficiency more »
Here we examine how the amount of condensed ice in part of the atmosphere—the tropical upper troposphere (UT)—responds to global warming. In the UT, the energy released during ice formation is balanced by the emission of radiation to space. This emission will strengthen with warming, suggesting that there will also be more ice. Using a model of the tropical atmosphere, we find that the increase in ice amount is mitigated by a reduction in the amount of time ice spends in the UT. This could have important implications for the cloud response to global warming, and future work should focus on how these changes are manifested across the distribution of convective cloud types.
- Award ID(s):
- Publication Date:
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Journal Name:
- Journal of Climate
- Page Range or eLocation-ID:
- p. 1643-1654
- American Meteorological Society
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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