Radiative heating rate profiles over the southeast Atlantic Ocean during the 2016 and 2017 biomass burning seasons

Marquardt Collow, Allison B.; Miller, Mark A.; Trabachino, Lynne C.; Jensen, Michael P.; Wang, Meng

Marine boundary layer clouds, including the transition from stratocumulus to cumulus, are poorly represented in numerical weather prediction and general circulation models. Further uncertainties in the cloud structure arise in the presence of biomass burning carbonaceous aerosol, as is the case over the southeast Atlantic Ocean, where biomass burning aerosol is transported from the African continent. As the aerosol plume progresses across the southeast Atlantic Ocean, radiative heating within the aerosol layer has the potential to alter the thermodynamic environment and therefore the cloud structure; however, limited work has been done to quantify this along the trajectory of the aerosol plume in the region. The deployment of the first Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Mobile Facility (AMF1) in support of the Layered Atlantic Smoke Interactions with Clouds field campaign provided a unique opportunity to collect observations of cloud and aerosol properties during two consecutive biomass burning seasons during July through October of 2016 and 2017 over Ascension Island (7.96inline-formula S, 14.35inline-formula W). Using observed profiles of temperature, humidity, and clouds from the field campaign alongside aerosol optical properties from Modern-Era Retrospective analysis for Research and Applications, Version 2 (MERRA-2), as input for the Rapid Radiation Transfer Model (RRTM), profiles of the radiative heating rate due to aerosols and clouds were computed. Radiative heating is also assessed across the southeast Atlantic Ocean using an ensemble of back trajectories from the Hybrid Single Particle Lagrangian Integrated Trajectory (HYSPLIT) model. Idealized experiments using the RRTM with and without aerosols and a range of values for the single-scattering albedo (SSA) demonstrate that shortwave (SW) heating within the aerosol layer above Ascension Island can locally range between 2 and 8 K dinline-formula−1 depending on the aerosol optical properties, though impacts of the aerosol can be felt elsewhere in the atmospheric column. When considered under clear conditions, the aerosol has a cooling effect at the TOA, and based on the observed cloud properties at Ascension Island, the cloud albedo is not large enough to overcome this. Shortwave radiative heating due to biomass burning aerosol is not balanced by additional longwave (LW) cooling, and the net radiative impact results in a stabilization of the lower troposphere. However, these results are extremely sensitive to the single-scattering albedo assumptions in models.



Marquardt Collow, Allison B. / Miller, Mark A. / Trabachino, Lynne C. / et al: Radiative heating rate profiles over the southeast Atlantic Ocean during the 2016 and 2017 biomass burning seasons. 2020. Copernicus Publications.


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