Impacts of a Fire Smoke Plume on Deep Convective Clouds Observed during DC3

Friday, 19 December 2014
Azusa Takeishi1, Trude Storelvmo1 and Mark Zagar2, (1)Yale University, New Haven, CT, United States, (2)Vestas Wind Systems A/S, Aarhus N, Denmark
While the ability of aerosols to act as cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) and ice nuclei (IN) is well recognized, the effects of changing aerosol number concentrations on convective clouds have only been studied extensively in recent years. As deep convective clouds can produce heavy precipitation and may sometimes bring severe damages, especially in the tropics, we need to understand the changes in the convective systems that could stem from aerosol perturbations. By perturbing convective clouds, it has also been proposed that aerosols can affect large-scale climate. According to the convective invigoration mechanism, an increase in the aerosol concentration could lead to a larger amount of rainfall and higher vertical velocities in convective clouds, due to an increase in the latent heat release aloft. With some of the satellite observations supporting this mechanism, it is necessary to understand how sensitive the model simulations actually are to aerosol perturbations. This study uses the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model as a cloud-resolving model to reproduce deep convective clouds observed during the Deep Convective Clouds and Chemistry (DC3) field campaign. The convective cloud of our interest was observed in northeastern Colorado on June 22nd in 2012, with a plume of forest fire smoke flowing into its core. Compared to other convective cells observed in the same area on different days, our aircraft data analysis shows that the convective cloud in question included more organic aerosols and more CCN. These indicate the influence of the biomass burning. We compare the results from simulations with different microphysics schemes and different cloud or ice number concentrations. These sensitivity tests tell us how different the amount and the pattern of precipitation would have been if the aerosol concentration had been higher or lower on that day. Both the sensitivity to aerosol perturbation and the reproducibility of the storm are shown to highly depend on the choice of the microphysics scheme.