Modelling Volcanic Aerosol-Cloud Interactions in Warm Cumulus Cloud Using the High Resolution Nested Suite of the UK Met Office Unified Model
Thursday, 18 December 2014
The impacts that aerosols have on clouds and clouds have on aerosols remain the largest uncertainty in terms of the effect on radiative forcing. Regional and global models are unable to resolve these small scale interactions, while high resolution eddy-resolving models are unable to capture the larger scale dynamics of the atmosphere and can only be run over a limited size domain for a limited time. Here we present results using the high resolution (1km, 0.3km) nested version of the UK Met Office Unified Model (UM) which bridges the scale gap between models. A new microphysics scheme, Cloud and AeroSol Interactive Microphysics (CASIM) is coupled to a chemistry and aerosol scheme (GLOMAP-mode) which allows for fully interactive aerosol and cloud microphysics.
Results showing the effect of volcanic aerosol from the slowly degassing Kilauea volcano, Hawaii on trade wind cumuli will be presented. The presence of a subtropical high pressure in the summer allows the study of aerosol-cloud interactions in a uniform unpolluted marine background environment without the complications of anthropogenic pollution. Satellite data has shown that cumulus clouds affected by the volcanic plume had smaller cloud droplets, reduced precipitation efficiency, increased cloud amount and higher cloud tops. Other researchers have hypothesised that that the observed changes in cloud properties cannot be explained by the orographic effect of the island or the sea surface temperature anomaly. We present results using CASIM in the UM at high resolution to systematically compare the relative effects of dynamical and aerosol-cloud interactions. Initial results show that the orography of the island does not have a significant impact on the cumulus cloud further downwind from the island but there is an effect in the immediate vicinity of the island. Initial results also indicate that 1km resolution is not high enough to resolve small cumulus cloud.