Satellite estimates of precipitation susceptibility in low-level marine...

Terai, C. R., R. Wood, and T. L. Kubar (2015), Satellite estimates of precipitation susceptibility in low-level marine stratiform clouds, J. Geophys. Res., 120, 8878-8889, doi:10.1002/2015JD023319.

Quantifying the sensitivity of warm rain to aerosols is important for constraining climate model estimates of aerosol indirect effects. In this study, the precipitation sensitivity to cloud droplet number concentration (Nd ) in satellite retrievals is quantified by applying the precipitation susceptibility metric to a combined CloudSat/Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer data set of stratus and stratocumulus clouds that cover the tropical and subtropical Pacific Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. Consistent with previous observational studies of marine stratocumulus, precipitation susceptibility decreases with increasing liquid water path (LWP), and the susceptibility of the mean precipitation rate R is nearly equal to the sum of the susceptibilities of precipitation intensity and of probability of precipitation. Consistent with previous modeling studies, the satellite retrievals reveal that precipitation susceptibility varies not only with LWP but also with Nd . Puzzlingly, negative values of precipitation susceptibility are found at low LWP and high Nd . There is marked regional variation in precipitation susceptibility values that cannot simply be explained by regional variations in LWP and Nd . This suggests other controls on precipitation apart from LWP and Nd and that precipitation susceptibility will need to be quantified and understood at the regional scale when relating to its role in controlling possible aerosol-induced cloud lifetime effects.

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