Effects of cosmic ray decreases on cloud microphysics

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Abstract

Using cloud data from MODIS we investigate the response of cloud microphysics to sudden decreases in galactic cosmic radiation – Forbush decreases – and find responses in effective emissivity, cloud fraction, liquid water content, and optical thickness above the 2–3 sigma level 6–9 days after the minimum in atmospheric ionization and less significant responses for effective radius and cloud condensation nuclei (<2 sigma). The magnitude of the signals agree with derived values, based on simple equations for atmospheric parameters. Furthermore principal components analysis gives a total significance of the signal of 3.1 sigma. We also see a correlation between total solar irradiance and strong Forbush decreases but a clear mechanism connecting this to cloud properties is lacking. There is no signal in the UV radiation. The responses of the parameters correlate linearly with the reduction in the cosmic ray ionization. These results support the suggestion that ions play a significant role in the life-cycle of clouds.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAtmospheric Chemistry and Physics Discussions
Volume12
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)3595
ISSN1680-7367
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Keywords

  • Chemistry
  • Physics and Astronomy
  • Earth and Environmental Sciences

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