Cloud-aerosol-meteorology interactions in shallow convection: Comparing the Southern Ocean against the North Atlantic


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The key research questions in this project are:

  • What are the major characteristics and properties of shallow convective clouds over the Southern Ocean and the North Atlantic?
  • How do these cloud properties vary with meteorology, surface and environmental conditions, and aerosol characteristics?
  • What are the key dynamical, thermodynamical, and microphysical processes that define the nature of these clouds?

The details

Shallow convective clouds are commonly observed over mid- and high-latitude oceans and have well been documented for their distinctive morphology. However, little is known about the properties of these clouds. Knowledge on any hemispheric contrast in these systems is even more limited.

Unlike the often polluted Northern Hemisphere oceans, the Southern Ocean atmosphere is far removed from human and continental sources of aerosols and dust, close to pre-industrial conditions. As such, understanding of any hemispheric contrast in cloud properties is key to constraining the uncertainty in estimating Earth’s climate sensitivity to increased industrial emissions from the historical record.

The project structure will be to take both existing and emerging in-situ aircraft observations and supplemented datasets to characterise the macrophysical and microphysical properties of shallow convective clouds to examine how they vary under different meteorological, environmental, and aerosol conditions.

Findings from the Southern Ocean will be compared against the North Atlantic counterpart to explore any systematic hemispheric differences in the examined properties and to elucidate any human impacts.

Representative cases will be identified, and idealised simulations will be performed with a state-of-the-art cloud model to understand what dynamical, thermodynamical, and microphysical details are needed to reproduce observations.

The graduate researcher on this project is: Elizabeth Elwell

Supervision team

First published on 12 July 2022.

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