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16 October 2015 On the reliability of geostationary satellite observations for diagnosing indirect aerosol effects
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Abstract
Aerosol indirect effects are poorly understand and constitute a highly uncertain anthropogenic forcing of climate change. The interaction of aerosols with clouds together with entrainment and turbulent mixing processes modulate cloud microphysics and radiative effects. In the current study we present preliminary results to diagnose indirect aerosol effects from the synergy of geostationary satellite observations, surface observations and MACC aerosol analysis. We examine if the sub-adiabatic factor - representative for entrainment - can be obtained from the combination of passive-satellite observations with ground-based cloud base height from a ceilometer network. Therefore the uncertainty of the sub-adiabatic factor due to its required input parameters, the cloud geometrical thickness and liquid water path, is explored. We use a two year dataset from SEVIRI and compare it to the LACROS supersite at Leipzig, Germany. We find that the comparison of satellite-retrieved cloud top heights shows a RMSD of 1100 m and the liquid water path of 75 gm-2, which are too large to provide a meaningful estimate of the instantaneous sub-adiabtic factor. Linking the cloud microphysical properties from passive satellites with aerosol properties obtained from MACC, we investigate the Twomey hypothesis, namely that smaller droplets and a higher cloud droplet number concentration result from higher aerosol load for a given liquid water path (positive change). A positive relative change is obtained for aerosol optical depth and the sulphate mass integrated from the surface to the cloud top. In contrast, a negative relative change is however found for sea salt.
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Daniel Merk, Hartwig Deneke, Bernhard Pospichal, and Patric Seifert "On the reliability of geostationary satellite observations for diagnosing indirect aerosol effects", Proc. SPIE 9640, Remote Sensing of Clouds and the Atmosphere XX, 96400D (16 October 2015); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2194897
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