Multi-year ground-based observations of aerosol-cloud interactions in the Mid-Atlantic of the United States

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Abstract

The U.S. Mid-Atlantic region experiences a wide variability of aerosol loading and frequent episodes of elevated anthropogenic aerosol loading associated with urban pollution conditions during summer months. In this study, multi-year ground-based observations (2006 to 2010) of aerosol and cloud properties from passive, active and in situ measurements at an atmospheric measurement field station in the Baltimore–Washington corridor operated by Howard University were analyzed to examine aerosol indirect effect on single-layer warm clouds including cloud optical depth (COD), liquid water path (LWP), cloud droplet effective radius (Re) and cloud droplet number concentration (Nd) in this region. A greater occurrence of polluted episodes and cloud cases with smaller Re (<7 µm) were found during the polluted year summers (2006, 2007 and 2008) than the clean year summers (2009 and 2010). The measurements of aerosol particulate matter with aerodynamic diameter≤2.5 µm (PM2.5) were used to represent the aerosol loading under cloudy conditions. Significant negative relationships between cloud droplet Re and PM2.5 were observed. Cloud cases were separated into clean and polluted groups based on the value of PM2.5. The cloud droplet Re was found proportional to LWP under clean conditions but weakly dependent on LWP under polluted conditions. The Nd was proportional to LWP under polluted condition but weakly dependent on LWP under clean conditions. Moreover, the effects of increasing fine aerosol particles on modifying cloud microphysical properties were found more significant under large LWP than small LWP in this region.

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Li, S., Joseph, E., Min, Q., & Yin, B. (2017). Multi-year ground-based observations of aerosol-cloud interactions in the Mid-Atlantic of the United States. Journal of Quantitative Spectroscopy and Radiative Transfer, 188, 192–199. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jqsrt.2016.02.004

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