Dissipation of Marine Stratiform Clouds and Collapse of the Marine Boundary Layer Due to the Depletion of Cloud Condensation Nuclei by Clouds

Science  08 Oct 1993:
Vol. 262, Issue 5131, pp. 226-229
DOI: 10.1126/science.262.5131.226


When the production of cloud condensation nuclei in the stratocumulus-topped marine boundary layer is low enough, droplet collisions can reduce concentrations of cloud droplet numbers to extremely low values. At low droplet concentrations a cloud layer can become so optically thin that cloud-top radiative cooling cannot drive vertical mixing. Under these conditions, model simulations indicate that the stratocumulus-topped marine boundary layer collapses to a shallow fog layer. Through this mechanism, marine stratiform clouds may limit their own lifetimes.