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Coalescence Scavenging Drives Droplet Number Concentration in Southern Ocean Low Clouds
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  • Litai Kang,
  • Roger Marchand,
  • Robert Wood,
  • Isabel L. McCoy
Litai Kang
Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Washington

Corresponding Author:kanglt@uw.edu

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Roger Marchand
University of Washington, Seattle, USA
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Robert Wood
University of Washington
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Isabel L. McCoy
University of Miami
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Cloud droplet number concentration (Nd) is a key microphysical property that is largely controlled by the balance between sources and sinks of aerosols that serve as cloud condensation nuclei (CCN). Despite being a key sink of CCN, the impact of coalescence scavenging on Southern Ocean (SO) cloud is poorly known. We apply a simple source-and-sink budget model based on parameterizations to austral summer aircraft observations to test model behavior and examine the relative influence of processes that determine Nd in SO stratocumulus clouds. The model predicts Nd with little bias and a correlation coefficient of ~0.7 compared with observations. Coalescence scavenging is found to be an important sink of CCN in both liquid and mixed-phase precipitating stratocumulus and reduces the predicted Nd by as much as 90% depending on the precipitation rate. The free tropospheric aerosol source controls Nd more strongly than the surface aerosol source during austral summer.
16 Apr 2022Published in Geophysical Research Letters volume 49 issue 7. 10.1029/2022GL097819