Effects of aerosol in simulations of realistic shallow cumulus cloud fields in a large domain

George Spill*, Philip Stier, Paul R. Field, Guy Dagan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Previous study of shallow convection has generally suffered from having to balance domain size with resolution, resulting in high-resolution studies which do not capture large-scale behaviour of the cloud fields. In this work we hope to go some way towards addressing this by carrying out cloud-resolving simulations on large domains. Simulations of trade wind cumulus are carried out using the Met Office Unified Model (UM), based on a case study from the Rain In Cumulus over the Ocean (RICO) field campaign. The UM is run with a nested domain of 500 km with 500 m resolution, in order to capture the large-scale behaviour of the cloud field, and with a double-moment interactive microphysics scheme. Simulations are run using baseline aerosol profiles based on observations from RICO, which are then perturbed. We find that the aerosol perturbations result in changes to the convective behaviour of the cloud field, with higher aerosol leading to an increase (decrease) in the number of deeper (shallower) clouds. However, despite this deepening, there is little increase in the frequency of higher rain rates. This is in contrast to the findings of previous work making use of idealised simulation setups. In further contrast, we find that increasing aerosol results in a persistent increase in domain mean liquid water path and decrease in precipitation, with little impact on cloud fraction.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)13507-13517
Number of pages11
JournalAtmospheric Chemistry and Physics
Issue number21
StatePublished - 6 Nov 2019
Externally publishedYes

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