New understanding and quantification of the regime dependence of aerosol-cloud interaction for studying aerosol indirect effects
Aerosol indirect effects suffer from large uncertainty in climate models and among observations. This study focuses on two plausible factors: regime dependence of aerosol-cloud interactions and the effect of cloud droplet spectral shape. We show, using a new parcel model, that combined consideration of droplet number concentration (Nc) and relative dispersion (ε, ratio of standard deviation to mean radius of the cloud droplet size distribution) better characterizes the regime dependence of aerosol-cloud interactions than considering Nc alone. Given updraft velocity (w), ε increases with increasing aerosol number concentration (Na) in the aerosol-limited regime, peaks in the transitional regime, and decreases with further increasing Na in the updraft-limited regime. This new finding further reconciles contrasting observations in literature and reinforces the compensating role of dispersion effect. The nonmonotonic behavior of ε further quantifies the relationship between the transitional Na and w that separates the aerosol- and updraft-limited regimes.