Effects of aerosol optical properties on deep convective clouds and radiative forcing Academic Article uri icon


  • The aerosol radiative effects (ARE) on the deep convective clouds are investigated by using a spectral-bin cloud-resolving model coupled with a radiation scheme and an explicit land surface model. The sensitivity of cloud properties and the associated radiative forcing to aerosol single-scattering albedo (SSA) are examined. The ARE on cloud properties is pronounced for mid-visible SSA of 0.85. Relative to the case without ARE, the cloud fraction and optical depth decrease by about 18% and 20%, respectively. Ice particle number concentrations, liquid water path, ice water path, and droplet size decrease by more than 15% when the ARE is introduced. The ARE causes a surface cooling of about 0.35 K and significantly high heating rates in the lower troposphere (about 0.6 K day-1 higher at 2 km), both of which lead to a more stable atmosphere and hence weaker convection. The weaker convection explains the less cloudiness, lower cloud optical depth, less LWP and IWP, smaller droplet size, and less precipitation resulting from the ARE. The daytime-mean direct forcing induced by black carbon is about 2.2 W m-2 at the top of atmosphere (TOA) and - 17.4 W m-2 at the surface for SSA of 0.85. The semi-direct forcing is positive, about 10 and 11.2 W m-2 at the TOA and surface, respectively. Both the TOA and surface total radiative forcing values are strongly negative for the deep convective clouds, attributed mostly to aerosol indirect forcing. Aerosol direct and semi-direct effects are very sensitive to SSA when aerosol optical depth is high. Because the positive semi-direct forcing compensates the negative direct forcing at the surface, the surface temperature and heat fluxes decrease less significantly with the increase of aerosol absorption (decreasing SSA). The cloud fraction, optical depth, convective strength, and precipitation decrease with the increase of absorption, resulting from a more stable atmosphere due to enhanced surface cooling and atmospheric heating. Copyright 2008 by the American Geophysical Union.

author list (cited authors)

  • Fan, J., Zhang, R., Tao, W., & Mohr, K. I.

citation count

  • 95

publication date

  • April 2008