Long-range Transport of Biomass Burning Aerosols over Stratocumulus Clouds

Speaker: Sampa Das, Purdue University

When: Wednesday, February 7, 2018, 3:30 p.m. Mountain Time
Location: Room 3C405, DSRC (NOAA Building), 325 Broadway, Boulder
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Optically thick smoke aerosol plumes originating from biomass burning (BB) in the southwestern African Savanna are transported thousands of kilometers westward over the South-East (SE) Atlantic during the austral spring season. SE Atlantic is also home to one of the three semi-permanent stratocumulus cloud decks of the globe, thus providing an ideal test bed to study the effects of absorbing aerosols primarily residing above the clouds. Observations from space using CALIOP Lidar paint a different picture of aerosol vertical distribution over the Atlantic Ocean compared to the simulations from various state-of-the-art global aerosol models. This talk will discuss the results from this multi-model comparative analysis, with a focus on NASA GEOS-5 Atmospheric GCM. The differences between the modeled and observed aerosol vertical distribution can be crucial in estimating the regional radiation budget because the cloud responses to aerosol-radiation interactions are strongly dependent on the relative location of the aerosol layer with respect to the clouds. Thus, evaluation of the GEOS-5 model cloud responses to the changes in aerosol vertical distribution will also be discussed. Lastly, I will summarize the major knowledge gaps with respect to the representation of BB aerosols in regional and global models and what are some of the ways to use the plethora of information retrieved from the recent and upcoming BB field campaigns and next-generation satellite instruments to narrow these gaps.

Sampa Das is completing her PhD in Atmospheric Sciences at Purdue University. She received a Master's of Technology degree in Chemical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology in Bombay. Her research interests include aerosol processes in global climate models. Currently, she is studying smoke plumes from biomass burning in Africa using CALIOP satellite data, and evaluating how these are represented in global models.