Aerosol properties and their influences on low warm clouds during the Two-Column Aerosol Project
Twelve months of measurements collected during the Two-Column Aerosol Project field campaign at Cape Cod, Massachusetts, which started in the summer of 2012, were used to investigate aerosol physical, optical, and chemical properties and their influences on the dependence of cloud development on thermodynamic (i.e., lower tropospheric stability, LTS) conditions. Relationships between aerosol loading and cloud properties under different dominant air-mass conditions and the magnitude of the first indirect effect (FIE), as well as the sensitivity of the FIE to different aerosol compositions, are examined. The seasonal variation in aerosol number concentration (Na) was not consistent with variations in aerosol optical properties (i.e., scattering coefficient, σs, and columnar aerosol optical depth). Organics were found to have a large contribution to small particle sizes. This contribution decreased during the particle growth period. Under low-aerosol-loading conditions, the liquid water path (LWP) and droplet effective radius (DER) significantly increased with increasing LTS, but, under high-aerosol-loading conditions, LWP and DER changed little, indicating that aerosols significantly weakened the dependence of cloud development on LTS. The reduction in LWP and DER from low- to high-aerosol-loading conditions was greater in stable environments, suggesting that clouds under stable conditions are more susceptible to aerosol perturbations than those under more unstable conditions. High aerosol loading weakened the increase in DER as LWP increased and strengthened the increase in cloud optical depth (COD) with increasing LWP, resulting in changes in the interdependence of cloud properties. Under both continental and marine air-mass conditions, high aerosol loading can significantly increase COD and decrease LWP and DER, narrowing their distributions. Magnitudes of the FIE estimated under continental air-mass conditions ranged from 0.07±0.03 to 0.26±0.09 with a mean value of 0.16±0.03 and showed an increasing trend as LWP increased. The calculated FIE values for aerosols with a low fraction of organics are greater than those for aerosols with a high fraction of organics. This implies that clouds over regions dominated by aerosol particles containing mostly inorganics are more susceptible to aerosol perturbations, resulting in larger climate forcing, than clouds over regions dominated by organic aerosol particles.