Aerosol impacts on warm-cloud microphysics and drizzle in a moderately polluted environment

Ying Chieh Chen, Sheng Hsiang Wang, Qilong Min, Sarah Lu, Pay Liam Lin, Neng Huei Lin, Kao Shan Chung, Everette Joseph

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Climate is critically affected by aerosols, which alter cloud lifecycles and precipitation distribution through radiative and microphysical effects. In this study, aerosol and cloud property datasets from MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer), onboard the Aqua satellite, and surface observations, including aerosol concentrations, raindrop size distribution, and meteorological parameters, were used to statistically quantify the effects of aerosols on low-level warm-cloud microphysics and drizzle over northern Taiwan during multiple fall seasons (from 15 October to 30 November of 2005-2017). Our results indicated that northwestern Taiwan, which has several densely populated cities, is dominated by low-level clouds (e.g., warm, thin, and broken clouds) during the fall season. The observed effects of aerosols on warm clouds indicated aerosol indirect effects (i.e., increased aerosol loading caused a decrease in cloud effective radius (CER)), an increase in cloud optical thickness, an increase in cloud fraction, and a decrease in cloud-top temperature under a fixed cloud water path. Quantitatively, aerosol-cloud interactions (ACI = - σ lnCER/σlnα |CWP, changes in CER relative to changes in aerosol amounts) were 0.07 for our research domain and varied between 0.09 and 0.06 in the surrounding remote (i.e., ocean) and polluted (i.e., land) areas, respectively, indicating aerosol indirect effects were stronger in the remote area. From the raindrop size distribution analysis, high aerosol loading resulted in a decreased frequency of drizzle events, redistribution of cloud water to more numerous and smaller droplets, and reduced collision-coalescence rates. However, during light rain (≤1 mm h-1), high aerosol concentrations drove raindrops towards smaller droplet sizes and increased the appearance of drizzle drops. This study used long-term surface and satellite data to determine aerosol variations in northern Taiwan, effects on clouds and precipitation, and observational strategies for future research on aerosol-cloud-precipitation interactions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4487-4502
Number of pages16
JournalAtmospheric Chemistry and Physics
Issue number6
StatePublished - 23 Mar 2021


Dive into the research topics of 'Aerosol impacts on warm-cloud microphysics and drizzle in a moderately polluted environment'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this