Aerosol and cloud experiments in Eastern North Atlantic (ACE-ENA) field campaign report

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Department of Physics


With their extensive coverage, low clouds greatly impact global climate. Presently, low clouds are poorly represented in global climate models (GCMs), and the response of low clouds to changes in atmospheric greenhouse gases and aerosols remains the major source of uncertainty in climate simulations. The poor representations of low clouds in GCMs are in part due to inadequate observations of their microphysical and macrophysical structures, radiative effects, and the associated aerosol distribution and budget in regions where the aerosol impact is the greatest. The Eastern North Atlantic (ENA) is a region of persistent but diverse subtropical marine boundary layer (MBL) clouds, whose albedo and precipitation are highly susceptible to perturbations in aerosol properties. Boundary-layer aerosol in the ENA region is influenced by a variety of sources, leading to strong variations in cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) concentration and aerosol optical properties. A permanent ENA site was established by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) user facility on Graciosa Island in the Azores, providing invaluable information on MBL aerosol and low clouds. At the same time, the vertical structures and horizontal variabilities of aerosol, trace gases, cloud, drizzle, and atmospheric thermodynamics are critically needed for understanding and quantifyingthe budget of MBL aerosol, the radiative properties, precipitation efficiency, and lifecycle of MBL clouds, and the cloud response to aerosol perturbations. Much of this data can be obtained only through aircraft-based measurements. In addition, the interconnected aerosol and cloud processes are best investigated by a study involving simultaneous in situ aerosol, cloud, and thermodynamics measurements. Furthermore, in situ measurements are also necessary for validating and improving ground-based retrieval algorithms at the ENA site. The Aerosol and Cloud Experiments in Eastern North Atlantic (ACE-ENA) project was motivated by the need for comprehensive in situ characterizations of boundary-layer structure, and associated vertical distributions and horizontal variabilities of low clouds and aerosol over the Azores. The ARM Aerial Facility (AAF) Gulfstream-1 (G-1) aircraft was deployed during two intensive measurement periods (IOPs). The first deployment took place from June 21 to July 20, 2017, and the second one took place from January 15 to February 18, 2018. Flights were carried out in the Azores, near the ARM ENA site on Graciosa Island. Deployments during both seasons allow for examination of key aerosol and cloud processes under a variety of representative meteorological and cloud conditions. The science themes for the deployments include: (1) Budget of MBL CCN and its seasonal variation; (2) Effects of aerosol on cloud and precipitation; (3) Cloud microphysical and macrophysical structures, and entrainment mixing; (4) Advancing retrievals of turbulence, cloud, and drizzle; and (5) Model evaluation and processes studies.

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