Simulating cloud-aerosol interactions made by ship emissions


Satellite imagery can detect temporary cloud trails or ship tracks formed from aerosols emitted from large ships traversing our oceans, a phenomenon that global climate models cannot directly reproduce. Ship tracks are observable examples of marine cloud brightening, a potential solar cli- mate intervention that shows promise in helping combat climate change. Whether or not a ship’s emission path visibly impacts the clouds above and how long a ship track visibly persists largely depends on the exhaust type and properties of the boundary layer with which it mixes. In order to be able to statistically infer the longevity of ship-emitted aerosols and characterize atmospheric conditions under which they form, a first step is to simulate, with mathematical surrogate model rather than an expensive physical model, the path of these cloud-aerosol interactions with parame- ters that are inferable from imagery. This will allow us to compare when/where we would expect to ship tracks to be visible, independent of atmospheric conditions, with what is actually observed from satellite imagery to be able to infer under what atmospheric conditions do ship tracks form. In this paper, we will discuss an approach to stochastically simulate the behavior of ship induced aerosols parcels within naturally generated clouds. Our method can use wind fields and potentially relevant atmospheric variables to determine the approximate movement and behavior of the cloud- aerosol tracks, and uses a stochastic differential equation (SDE) to model the persistence behavior of cloud-aerosol paths. This SDE incorporates both a drift and diffusion term which describes the movement of aerosol parcels via wind and their diffusivity through the atmosphere, respectively. We successfully demonstrate our proposed approach with an example using simulated wind fields and ship paths.

Proc. JSM