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Title: Observational constraint on cloud susceptibility weakened by aerosol retrieval limitations

Abstract

Aerosol-cloud interactions remain a major uncertainty in climate research. Studies have indicated that model estimates of cloud susceptibility to aerosols frequently exceed satellite estimates, motivating model reformulations to increase agreement. Here we show that conventional ways of using satellite information to estimate susceptibility can serve as only a weak constraint on models because the estimation is sensitive to errors in the retrieval procedures. Using instrument simulators to investigate differences between model and satellite estimates of susceptibilities, we find that low aerosol loading conditions are not well characterized by satellites, but model clouds are sensitive to aerosol perturbations in these conditions. We quantify the observational requirements needed to constrain models, and find that the nighttime lidar measurements of aerosols provide a better characterization of tenuous aerosols. Here, we conclude that observational uncertainties and limitations need to be accounted for when assessing the role of aerosols in the climate system.

Authors:
ORCiD logo [1]; ORCiD logo [1];  [2]; ORCiD logo [3]; ORCiD logo [1]
  1. Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
  2. Sorbonne Univ., Paris (France); Ecole Polytechnique, Palaiseau (France)
  3. NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, VA (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
1463346
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1513205
Report Number(s):
PNNL-SA-118058
Journal ID: ISSN 2041-1723; PII: 5028
Grant/Contract Number:  
AC05-76RL01830
Resource Type:
Journal Article: Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Nature Communications
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 9; Journal Issue: 1; Journal ID: ISSN 2041-1723
Publisher:
Nature Publishing Group
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES

Citation Formats

Ma, Po -Lun, Rasch, Philip J., Chepfer, Helene, Winker, David M., and Ghan, Steven J.. Observational constraint on cloud susceptibility weakened by aerosol retrieval limitations. United States: N. p., 2018. Web. doi:10.1038/S41467-018-05028-4.
Ma, Po -Lun, Rasch, Philip J., Chepfer, Helene, Winker, David M., & Ghan, Steven J.. Observational constraint on cloud susceptibility weakened by aerosol retrieval limitations. United States. doi:10.1038/S41467-018-05028-4.
Ma, Po -Lun, Rasch, Philip J., Chepfer, Helene, Winker, David M., and Ghan, Steven J.. Fri . "Observational constraint on cloud susceptibility weakened by aerosol retrieval limitations". United States. doi:10.1038/S41467-018-05028-4. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1463346.
@article{osti_1463346,
title = {Observational constraint on cloud susceptibility weakened by aerosol retrieval limitations},
author = {Ma, Po -Lun and Rasch, Philip J. and Chepfer, Helene and Winker, David M. and Ghan, Steven J.},
abstractNote = {Aerosol-cloud interactions remain a major uncertainty in climate research. Studies have indicated that model estimates of cloud susceptibility to aerosols frequently exceed satellite estimates, motivating model reformulations to increase agreement. Here we show that conventional ways of using satellite information to estimate susceptibility can serve as only a weak constraint on models because the estimation is sensitive to errors in the retrieval procedures. Using instrument simulators to investigate differences between model and satellite estimates of susceptibilities, we find that low aerosol loading conditions are not well characterized by satellites, but model clouds are sensitive to aerosol perturbations in these conditions. We quantify the observational requirements needed to constrain models, and find that the nighttime lidar measurements of aerosols provide a better characterization of tenuous aerosols. Here, we conclude that observational uncertainties and limitations need to be accounted for when assessing the role of aerosols in the climate system.},
doi = {10.1038/S41467-018-05028-4},
journal = {Nature Communications},
issn = {2041-1723},
number = 1,
volume = 9,
place = {United States},
year = {2018},
month = {7}
}

Journal Article:
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