Suppression of marina stratocumulus clouds due to reduced cloud condensation nuclei.
Smith, Neil Tyler
Durkee, Philip A.
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Cloud researchers have documented a variety of processes at work in the formation and dissipation of clouds in the marine boundary layer (MBL). Cloud rifts occasionally mark a distinct exception to the continuity and broad coverage more commonly observed with these clouds. A possible explanation for the presence of large features of broken cloudiness embedded in stratocumulus is the removal of CCN by nucleation scavenging and drizzle. A cloud rift feature embedded in marine stratocumulus was observed in satellite imagery on July 16, 1999. A CIRPAS Twin Otter aircraft flew repeated crossings of the rift boundary while completing a comprehensive survey of the area. A comparison of microphysics and thermodynamics on opposite sides of the rift boundary indicate that these rifts form where low aerosol concentrations enhance drizzle production. Marine boundary layer aerosol concentrations in the rift were only 1/6 that observed below the background stratocumulus. Cloud droplets in rift clouds were 3-5 microns larger than droplets in stratocumulus and exhibited a broader size distribution. Drizzle observations were strongly correlated with the rift and calculations support a drizzle hypothesis for rift formation and maintenance. Aerosol losses can be accounted for in drizzle droplets and the disruption of the cloud layer evolves in a manner described by Ackerman (1993).
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