U.S. Department of Energy Office of Biological and Environmental Research

BER Research Highlights

New Community Atmospheric Model Passes ARM Test for Aerosol Effects on Cloud Droplet Size
Published: April 28, 2012
Posted: August 20, 2012

Using measurements to evaluate the impacts of aerosols on cloud properties can help narrow climate model uncertainties by identifying where model problems occur and where model representations are robust for aerosol-cloud interactions. DOE scientists at Lawrence Livermore and Pacific Northwest National Laboratories have quantified the aerosol impacts on cloud droplet effective radius (aerosol first indirect effect, FIE) for non-precipitating, low-level, single-layer liquid phase clouds simulated in the Community Atmospheric Model version 5 (CAM5) at three Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) sites. The aerosol FIE is quantified in terms of a relative change in cloud droplet effective radius for a relative change in aerosol amount under conditions of fixed liquid water amount. The study shows that CAM5 simulates aerosol-cloud interactions reasonably well for this specific cloud type and the simulated FIE is consistent with the long-term ARM observations at the examined locations. The high sensitivity of aerosol FIE to cloud liquid water amount and aerosol variable and low sensitivity to location and time are also consistent with observational studies. If this study has general applicability for other cloud types and locations, it suggests that the possible overestimation of aerosol climate impacts found by other studies may be a problem from other aerosol indirect effects, such as cloud lifetime effects, rather than the FIE.

Reference: Zhao, C., S. A. Klein, S. Xie, X. Liu, J. S. Boyle, and Y. Zhang. 2012. "Aerosol First Indirect Effects on Non-Precipitating Low-Level Liquid Cloud Properties as Simulated by CAM5 at ARM Sites," Geophysical Research Letters 39, L08806. DOI:10.1029/2012GL051213. (Reference link)

Contact: Dorothy Koch, SC-23.1, (301) 903-0105, Ashley Williamson, SC-23.1, (301) 903-3120
Topic Areas:

  • Research Area: Earth and Environmental Systems Modeling
  • Research Area: Atmospheric System Research
  • Facility: DOE ARM User Facility

Division: SC-23.1 Climate and Environmental Sciences Division, BER


BER supports basic research and scientific user facilities to advance DOE missions in energy and environment. More about BER

Recent Highlights

Aug 24, 2019
New Approach for Studying How Microbes Influence Their Environment
A diverse group of scientists suggests a common framework and targeting of known microbial processes [more...]

Aug 08, 2019
Nutrient-Hungry Peatland Microbes Reduce Carbon Loss Under Warmer Conditions
Enzyme production in peatlands reduces carbon lost to respiration under future high temperatures. [more...]

Aug 05, 2019
Amazon Forest Response to CO2 Fertilization Dependent on Plant Phosphorus Acquisition
AmazonFACE Model Intercomparison. The Science Plant growth is dependent on the availabi [more...]

Jul 29, 2019
A Slippery Slope: Soil Carbon Destabilization
Carbon gain or loss depends on the balance between competing biological, chemical, and physical reac [more...]

Jul 15, 2019
Field Evaluation of Gas Analyzers for Measuring Ecosystem Fluxes
How gas analyzer type and correction method impact measured fluxes. The Science A side- [more...]

List all highlights (possible long download time)