Evaluation of four ground-based retrievals of cloud droplet number concentration in marine stratocumulus with aircraft in situ measurements

Zhang, Damao; Vogelmann, Andrew M.; Yang, Fan; Luke, Edward; Kollias, Pavlos; Wang, Zhien; Wu, Peng; Gustafson Jr., William I.; Mei, Fan; Glienke, Susanne; Tomlinson, Jason; Desai, Neel

Cloud droplet number concentration (inline-formulaNd) is crucial for understanding aerosol–cloud interactions (ACI) and associated radiative effects. We present evaluations of four ground-based inline-formulaNd retrievals based on comprehensive datasets from the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Aerosol and Cloud Experiments in the Eastern North Atlantic (ACE-ENA) field campaign. The inline-formulaNd retrieval methods use ARM ENA observatory ground-based remote sensing observations from a micropulse lidar, Raman lidar, cloud radar, and the ARM NDROP (Droplet Number Concentration) value-added product (VAP), all of which also retrieve cloud effective radius (inline-formulare). The retrievals are compared against aircraft measurements from the fast cloud droplet probe (FCDP) and the cloud and aerosol spectrometer (CAS) obtained from low-level marine boundary layer clouds on 12 flight days during summer and winter seasons. Additionally, the in situ measurements are used to validate the assumptions and characterizations used in the retrieval algorithms. Statistical comparisons of the probability distribution function (PDF) of the inline-formulaNd and cloud inline-formulare retrievals with aircraft measurements demonstrate that these retrievals align well with in situ measurements for overcast clouds, but they may substantially differ for broken clouds or clouds with low liquid water path (LWP). The retrievals are applied to 4 years of ground-based remote sensing measurements of overcast marine boundary layer clouds at the ARM ENA observatory to find that inline-formulaNd (inline-formulare) values exhibit seasonal variations, with higher (lower) values during the summer season and lower (higher) values during the winter season. The ensemble of various retrievals using different measurements and retrieval algorithms such as those in this paper can help to quantify inline-formulaNd retrieval uncertainties and identify reliable inline-formulaNd retrieval scenarios. Of the retrieval methods, we recommend using the micropulse lidar-based method. This method has good agreement with in situ measurements, less sensitivity to issues arising from precipitation and low cloud LWP and/or optical depth, and broad applicability by functioning for both daytime and nighttime conditions.

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Zhang, Damao / Vogelmann, Andrew M. / Yang, Fan / et al: Evaluation of four ground-based retrievals of cloud droplet number concentration in marine stratocumulus with aircraft in situ measurements. 2023. Copernicus Publications.

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