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Springtime Stratospheric Volcanic Aerosol Impact on Midlatitude Cirrus Clouds

Abstract : Explosive volcanic eruptions can reach the stratosphere and cause elevated concentrations of sulphate particles for months to years. When these particles descend into the troposphere, they can impact cirrus clouds though to what degree is unknown. In this study, we combine three satellite data sets to investigate the impact of downwelling sulphate aerosol on midlatitude cirrus clouds during springtime. The results show that cirrus clouds in the northern hemisphere (NH) have lower ice water content (IWC), ice crystal number concentrations, and cloud fraction (CF) when the aerosol load in the lowermost stratosphere is elevated by volcanism. These changes are largest for the coldest clouds at the highest altitudes. The cirrus clouds in the southern hemisphere on the other hand show no significant changes with downwelling aerosol levels. The reduction in cirrus IWC and CF in the NH implies that volcanic aerosol can cool the climate through reduced warming from cirrus clouds.
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Submitted on : Thursday, June 2, 2022 - 7:48:20 PM
Last modification on : Friday, June 3, 2022 - 3:40:17 AM

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M. K. Sporre, J. Friberg, C. Svenhag, O. Sourdeval, T. Storelvmo. Springtime Stratospheric Volcanic Aerosol Impact on Midlatitude Cirrus Clouds. Geophysical Research Letters, 2022, 49, ⟨10.1029/2021GL096171⟩. ⟨insu-03686323⟩

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