Collaborative Research: Evaluating the Influences of Aerosols on Low-level Cloud-precipitation Properties over Land and Ocean Using Long-term Ground-based-Observations and WRF Simulations Grant uri icon


  • Aerosol generation resulting from natural and anthropogenic activities is expected to have considerable, far-reaching effects on cloud development and the hydrologic cycle. Though the aerosol direct effect can simply be thought of as a reduction of incoming solar radiation reaching the Earth''s surface, the aerosol indirect effect (AIE) involves a complex set of aerosol-cloud-precipitation interactions. These indirect effects include the alteration of cloud microphysical properties such as cloud lifetime, droplet size distribution, liquid water content and path, optical depth, and albedo. Precipitation processes will certainly be affected in numerous and at times, detrimental ways. Hence, there is a major impact to society as a whole due to a heavy dependence on the distribution of available water over a given region for public consumption, agriculture, and industrial purposes. Intellectual Merit: This research adopts a synergistic approach that uses the long-term ground-based observations and retrievals from the Southern Great Plains of the United States and Eastern North Atlantic Ocean regions to investigate the seasonal and diurnal variations of aerosol and clouds under the continental and maritime conditions, as well as compare their similarities and differences. Air parcel trajectory modeling will be conducted to identify the sources of air masses for the selected cases to investigate the AIEs over these two regions with additional WRF simulations. This study is important because it will aid to improve aerosol and cloud parameterizations as well as provide an in-depth understanding of aerosol-cloud-precipitation interactions in typical maritime and continental conditions. The following three scientific questions (SQs) will be investigated. SQ1: What are the similarities and differences of aerosol-cloud properties, as well as their interactions over ocean and land? SQ2: What are the indirect effects of aerosols on cloud microphysical properties? SQ3: How does wind shear enhance turbulent mixing and stimulate drizzle formation? Broader Impacts: This research will benefit society by helping to provide better support for the modeling of aerosol-cloud-precipitation interactions which will aid in researching the long-term distribution of available water by clouds and precipitation processes. The far-reaching goal of this project is to further reduce uncertainties in the climate modeling community by providing better constraints for seasonal and regional aerosol and cloud properties. Moreover, there will be plenty of opportunities to introduce aerosol-cloud interactions as "real world" examples in undergraduate and graduate geoscience courses where the students can not only investigate these examples as interdisciplinary class projects, but also improve upon current research techniques and develop their own theses and dissertation areas of focus.

date/time interval

  • 2017 - 2020