Deconvolution of boundary layer depth and aerosol constraints on cloud water path in subtropical stratocumulus decks

Anna Possner*, Ryan Eastman, Frida Bender, Franziska Glassmeier

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


The liquid water path (LWP) adjustment due to aerosol-cloud interactions in marine stratocumulus remains a considerable source of uncertainty for climate sensitivity estimates. An unequivocal attribution of LWP adjustments to changes in aerosol concentration from climatology remains difficult due to the considerable covariance between meteorological conditions alongside changes in aerosol concentrations. We utilise the susceptibility framework to quantify the potential change in LWP adjustment with boundary layer (BL) depth in subtropical marine stratocumulus. We show that the LWP susceptibility, i.e. the relative change in LWP scaled by the relative change in cloud droplet number concentration, in marine BLs triples in magnitude from <span classCombining double low line"inline-formula">-0.1</span> to <span classCombining double low line"inline-formula">-0.31</span> as the BL deepens from 300 to 1200&thinsp;m and deeper. We further find deep BLs to be underrepresented in pollution tracks, process modelling, and in situ studies of aerosol-cloud interactions in marine stratocumulus. Susceptibility estimates based on these approaches are skewed towards shallow BLs of moderate LWP susceptibility. Therefore, extrapolating LWP susceptibility estimates from shallow BLs to the entire cloud climatology may underestimate the true LWP adjustment within subtropical stratocumulus and thus overestimate the effective aerosol radiative forcing in this region. Meanwhile, LWP susceptibility estimates in deep BLs remain poorly constrained. While susceptibility estimates in shallow BLs are found to be consistent with process modelling studies, they overestimate pollution track estimates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3609-3621
Number of pages13
JournalAtmospheric Chemistry and Physics
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 26 Mar 2020


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