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

See allHide authors and affiliations

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.