Measurement of the effect of biomass burning aerosol on inhibition of cloud formation over the Amazon

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1 Supporting Online Material for Koren et al. Measurement of the effect of biomass burning aerosol on inhibition of cloud formation over the Amazon 1. MODIS new cloud detection algorithm The operational MODIS aerosol cloud mask over land uses the concept of spatial variability in the blue (0.47um) channel as the main algorithm to discriminate between clouds and clear sky. Additional tests are added to take care of thin cirrus (1) and thick and bright homogeneous clouds. As an example of the cloud masking procedure and aerosol optical thickness retrievals with MODIS, figure 1a shows a true color image over the Amazon region containing smoke, clouds of several types and clear sky. Figure 1b shows an image of the spatial variability of every 3X3 pixels and its correspondence to the cloudy and clear sky separation. Figure 1a True color image over the Amazon area. Figure1b Spatial variability of every 3X3 pixels showing the separations between clouds and clear sky. The white and green rectangles represent selected areas for the histograms in figure 2and 3.

2 Figure 2 shows a histogram of the white box area in figure 1b, indicating the nice separation between clouds and clear sky. Due to the large difference in the spatial variability of clouds and aerosols (or land surfaces), the spatial variability is the main procedure used in the MODIS operational cloud mask. Clear Sky Clouds Figure 2 Histogram of spatial variability for the white box indicated in figure 1B. The two separated peaks represent clear sky plus aerosol cases versus clouds. Figure 3 shows a histogram of the green box in figure 1B, indicating the existence of holes allowing for the retrieval of the aerosol optical thickness in between the clouds. The red line indicates the used threshold used in the retrievals. Figure 3 - Histogram of spatial variability for the green box indicated in figure 1B.

3 Figure 4 shows the result of the MODIS operational algorithm for the retrieval of aerosol optical thickness (on the right side) after applying the cloud mask discussed above. The figure indicates the lack of the scatter cumulus clouds in the region covered by smoke and also the low AOT in the region of these clouds (see true color on the left side). Other types of clouds developed south from the Amazon jungle (mainly in the lower part of the image) does not correlate with the smoke. The average optical thickness in the area marked by the white box is 0.2 and the scatter clouds cover is 40% the average optical thickness in the yellow box is 0.4 and the cloud cover is 35% and the average optical thickness of the green box is 3 with less the 5% scatter cumulus cloud cover Figure 4 - MODIS operational algorithm for the retrieval of aerosol optical thickness at 0.55um on the right side and the true color image on the left side. The three boxes represent areas for comparing the average AOT and scatter cumulus cover. Although the spatial variability is the main mask used in the MODIS operational algorithm, there are exceptions where clouds are very homogeneous and would fail the variability threshold. In the MODIS algorithm these cases are taken care of by the use of the 1.38um channel identifying thin homogeneous cirrus clouds and by a large

4 reflectance threshold (0.4 in reflectance units) in the 0.47um channel taking care of thick/bright homogeneous clouds. 2. Extended discussion on the semi-direct effect in the Amazon The presence of smoke stabilizes the boundary layer, therefore decreases convection and reduces (or stops) fluxes from the surface. A laboratory-like evidence for such effect can be seen over the Amazon streams were the surface is cooler thus the atmosphere is more stable and there are no scattered cumulus clouds. Figure 5 shows a shuttle image over the Amazon (taken from The stabling effect can be seen clearly by the absence of the scatter clouds. In a lower resolution this effect can be seen in Figure 2 in the paper. Figure 5 Shuttle image (ID: STS076.ESC ) over the Amazon. An alternative way to describe this effect is by its evolution in time: At the beginning of the process there are clouds and smoke. The solar radiation is reflected from both and absorbed by the smoke. The mean cloud coverage in clean conditions is 40 percent. This allows sunlight through the holes in the cloud, and the smoke effectively fills in these holes. Closing the holes will reduce the radiation in the surface and will warm the

5 aerosol layer. Reduction of solar radiation at the surface will reduce the vapor fluxes to the boundary layer. Warming of the aerosol layer (at altitude of 2km and above) will make the boundary layer more stable and therefore reduce transport of humidity from the surface to layers above and reduce turbulence for cloud formation. Once this process is started the cloud fraction will be reduced as a function of the amount of the smoke (smoke optical depth), and as described in the paper, other (feedback) processes will be effective. Reduction of solar fluxes reaching the canopy may decrease evapotranspiration and the moisture input to the atmosphere. Relative humidity of the layer will be reduced and the capacity of the layer to hold water vapor increases and the competition for water vapor by extremely high concentrations of particles that absorb water vapor and keep the layer from reaching super saturation. Reference B. C. Gao, Y. J. Kaufman, D. Tanre, R. R. Li, Geophys. Res. Lett. 29, 1890, (2002).

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