Precipitation Susceptibility and Aerosol Buffering of Warm- and Mixed-Phase Orographic Clouds in Idealized Simulations
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Precipitation Susceptibility and Aerosol Buffering of Warm- and Mixed-Phase Orographic Clouds in Idealized Simulations

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  • Journal Title:
    Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences
  • Description:
    The sensitivity of warm- and mixed-phase orographic precipitation to the aerosol background with simultaneous changes in the abundance of cloud condensation nuclei and ice nucleating particles is explored in an idealized, two-dimensional modeling study. The concept of precipitation susceptibility dlnP/dlnN, where P is the precipitation mixing ratio and N the cloud droplet number, is adapted for orographic clouds. Precipitation susceptibility is found to be low because perturbations to different precipitation formation pathways compensate each other. For mixed-phase conditions, this in particular means a redistribution between warm and cold pathways. The compensating behavior is described as a consequence of a balance equation for the cloud water along parcel trajectories that constrains the total precipitation formation to match the drying from condensation and vapor deposition on ice-phase hydrometeors caused by the mountain flow. For an aerosol-independent condensation rate (saturation adjustment), this balance requirement limits aerosol impacts on orographic precipitation (i) to the evaporation of hydrometeors and (ii) to the glaciation state of the cloud, which controls the contribution of vapor deposition to drying. The redistribution of precipitation formation pathways is coupled to a redistribution of the total hydrometeor mass between hydrometeor categories. Aerosol effects on the glaciation state of the cloud enhance this redistribution effect such that liquid and ice adjustments do not compensate. For the externally constrained, fully adjusted steady-state situation studied, precipitation susceptibility quantifies the redistribution effect rather than changes in precipitation production as in previous studies.
  • Source:
    Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences, 75(4), 1173-1194.
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