Effect of coarse marine aerosols on stratocumulus clouds

Yoav Lehahn, Ilan Koren, Orit Altaratz, Alexander B. Kostinski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In contrast to fine anthropogenic aerosols (radii ∼<0.5 m), large aerosol particles are thought to enhance cloud droplet growth, promote precipitation formation and reduce cloud albedo. While shown in cloud simulation models, the impact of coarse aerosols on marine stratocumulus clouds lacks observational evidence. Here, by combining data from AMSR-E and MODIS, both aboard NASA's satellite Aqua, we link the amount of coarse marine aerosols emitted to the atmosphere through wind-driven processes with the size of cloud droplets, at the world's largest deck of marine stratocumulus clouds over the southeastern Pacific. For constrained meteorological conditions, approximately 1/2 of the change in droplet effective radius (reff) is attributed to increase in coarse marine aerosol optical depth (Tcm), as surface winds intensify. Accordingly, a twofold increase in Tcm is associated with a 1.4 m 0.11 increase in reff. Our results suggest that climatic changes in surface winds may play an important role not only over land for wind-power estimation but also over the oceans by changing clouds reflectance and lifetime.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberL20804
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number20
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (all)


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