Radiative forcing from aerosol–cloud interactions enhanced by large-scale circulation adjustments

Guy Dagan*, Netta Yeheskel, Andrew I.L. Williams

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The impact of anthropogenic aerosols on clouds is a leading source of uncertainty in estimating the effect of human activity on the climate system. The challenge lies in the scale difference between clouds (~1–10 km) and general circulation and climate (>1,000 km). To address this, we use convection-permitting simulations conducted in a long and narrow domain, to resolve convection while also including a representation of large-scale processes. We examine a set of simulations that include a sea surface temperature gradient—which drives large-scale circulation—and compare these with simulations that include no gradient. We show that the effective radiative forcing due to aerosol–cloud interactions is strongly enhanced by adjustments of large-scale circulation to aerosol. We find that an increase in aerosol concentration suppresses precipitation in shallow-convective regions, which enhances water vapour transport to the portion of the domain dominated by deep convection. The subsequent increase in latent heat release in deep-convective regions strengthens the overturning circulation and surface evaporation. These changes can explain the increase in cloudiness under higher aerosol concentrations and, consequently, the large aerosol radiative effect. This work highlights the fundamental importance of large-scale circulation adjustments in understanding the effective radiative forcing from aerosol–cloud interactions.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1092-1098
Number of pages7
JournalNature Geoscience
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2023

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© 2023, The Author(s).


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