Satellite observations of aerosols and clouds over southern China from 2006 to 2015: analysis of changes and possible interaction mechanisms

Benas, Nikos; Meirink, Jan Fokke; Karlsson, Karl-Göran; Stengel, Martin; Stammes, Piet

Aerosol and cloud properties over southern China during the 10-year period 2006–2015 are analysed based on observations from passive and active satellite sensors and emission data. The results show a strong decrease in aerosol optical depth (AOD) over the study area, accompanied by an increase in liquid cloud cover and cloud liquid water path (LWP). The most significant changes occurred mainly in late autumn and early winter: AOD decreased by about 35 %, coinciding with an increase in liquid cloud fraction by 40 % and a near doubling of LWP in November and December. Analysis of emissions suggests that decreases in carbonaceous aerosol emissions from biomass burning activities were responsible for part of the AOD decrease, while inventories of other, anthropogenic emissions mainly showed increases. Analysis of precipitation changes suggests that an increase in precipitation also contributed to the overall aerosol reduction. Possible explanatory mechanisms for these changes were examined, including changes in circulation patterns and aerosol–cloud interactions (ACIs). Further analysis of changes in aerosol vertical profiles demonstrates a consistency of the observed aerosol and cloud changes with the aerosol semi-direct effect, which depends on relative heights of the aerosol and cloud layers: fewer absorbing aerosols in the cloud layer would lead to an overall decrease in the evaporation of cloud droplets, thus increasing cloud LWP and cover. While this mechanism cannot be proven based on the present observation-based analysis, these are indeed the signs of the reported changes.

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Benas, Nikos / Meirink, Jan Fokke / Karlsson, Karl-Göran / et al: Satellite observations of aerosols and clouds over southern China from 2006 to 2015: analysis of changes and possible interaction mechanisms. 2020. Copernicus Publications.

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Rechteinhaber: Nikos Benas et al.

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