Response of Hurricane Harvey’s rainfall to anthropogenic aerosols: A sensitivity study based on spectral bin microphysics with simulated aerosols
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Response of Hurricane Harvey’s rainfall to anthropogenic aerosols: A sensitivity study based on spectral bin microphysics with simulated aerosols

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  • Journal Title:
    Atmospheric Research
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    A number of human-induced elements contribute to influencing the intensity of tropical cyclones and prolonging their lifetime. Not only do ocean heat content, large-scale weather patterns, and surface properties affect the amount of release of energy, but the modulation from aerosol particles on cloud properties is also present. With Hurricane Harvey (2017) fairly isolated over Texas, there was a unique opportunity to study the indirect impact of aerosols on the amount of record-breaking rainfall over the greater Houston area. Due to the non-linear processes involved in clouds microstructure, aerosol properties and the variability associated with the atmospheric environment, the quantification of the response of storms to aerosols is complex. To this end, we first reproduce Harvey using the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model coupled with a 3D-var assimilation framework that incorporates satellites, radio occultation, dropsondes, and surface measurements. We then study the aerosol indirect impacts using spectral bin microphysics in conjunction with aerosol properties simulated from the Goddard Earth Observing System (GEOS)-Chem TwO-Moment Aerosol Sectional (TOMAS) model leveraging online aerosol microphysics with anthropogenic emissions (SP) and without ones (SC). In the vicinity of Harvey's landfall, the number concentration of cloud condensation nuclei at 1% supersaturation using the anthropogenic emissions is found to be one order of magnitude (855 cm−3) larger than those simulated with only natural emissions (83 cm−3). We observed that a narrow plume of anthropogenic aerosols from western Texas was transported over the area at the moment when deep convection initiated, accelerating updrafts through releasing more latent heat, which in turn, resulted in an average enhancement of precipitation by 25 mm (~ 8%) over the greater Houston area. We observed a second peak at the right tail of the distribution of differences between experiments, which is an indication of the presence of more extreme rainfall over the area. As such, studies on the impact of aerosol emissions controls on exacerbating severe weather should be more encouraged.
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    Atmospheric Research, 242, 104965
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    CC BY
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