Assessing aerosol indirect effect on clouds and regional climate of East/South Asia and West Africa using NCEP GFS

  • Huilin Huang
  • Yu Gu
  • Yongkang XueEmail author
  • Jonathan Jiang
  • Bin Zhao


Aerosols can act as cloud condensation nuclei and ice nuclei, resulting in changes in cloud droplet/particle number/size, and hence altering the radiation budget. This study investigates the interactions between aerosols and ice clouds by incorporating the latest ice clouds parameterization in an atmospheric general circulation model. The simulation shows a decrease in effective ice cloud crystal size corresponding to aerosol increase, referred to as the aerosol first indirect effect, which has not been comprehensively studied. Ice clouds with smaller particles reflect more shortwave radiation and absorb more infrared radiation, resulting in radiation change by 0.5–1.0 W/m2 at the top of the atmosphere (TOA). The TOA radiation field is also influenced by cloud cover change due to aerosol-induced circulation change. Such aerosol effects on precipitation highly depend on the existence of a deep convection system: interactions between aerosols and ice clouds create dipole precipitation anomalies in the Asian monsoon regions; while in West Africa, enhanced convections are constrained by anticyclone effects at high levels and little precipitation increase is found. We also conduct an experiment to assess interactions between aerosols and liquid clouds and compare the climatic effects with that due to ice clouds. Radiation and temperature changes generated by liquid clouds are normally 1–2 times larger than those generated by ice clouds. The radiation change has a closer relationship to liquid cloud droplet size than liquid cloud cover, in contrast with what we find for ice clouds.


Aerosol first indirect effect AGCM East Asia West Africa GOCART data 



This work was supported by NSF Grant AGS-1419526. The authors also acknowledge the support by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, sponsored by NASA. Yu Gu and Bin Zhao are supported by the NSF AGS-1701526 and NASA TASNPP program (Grant 80NSSC18K0985). Yu Gu also acknowledges the support of the Natural Science Foundation of Jiangsu Province, China (No. BK20171230). The data used in this study are available by request to Huilin Huang. We thank Dr. Sarah Lu of the University at Albany, SUNY, and Dr. Zhao Chun of the University of Science and Technology of China for their assistance in obtaining the GOCART aerosol data and the AMIP CAM5 aerosol data.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Huilin Huang
    • 1
  • Yu Gu
    • 2
    • 3
  • Yongkang Xue
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Jonathan Jiang
    • 4
  • Bin Zhao
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of GeographyUniversity of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic SciencesUniversity of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  3. 3.Joint Institute for Regional Earth System Science and EngineeringUniversity of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  4. 4.Jet Propulsion LaboratoryCalifornia Institute of TechnologyPasadenaUSA

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