Increasing the amount of anthropogenic aerosols over the Himalayas modulate cloud properties, thereby altering cloud phase and cloud height, consequently influence formation and distribution of orographic precipitation. Moreover, further rises in global temperature may influence cloud properties by the ‘Clausius – Clapeyron effect’, which increases moisture holding capacity of air.
This study presents sensitivity of simulated cloud properties to aerosol and temperature perturbations using the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model, coupled with a bulk microphysics scheme, in a convection permitting configuration applied to a complex topographical region, the Nepal Himalayas. We find that the effect of aerosol on the simulated rainfall is nonlinear, ranging from -3% to +4% depending on the investigated aerosol perturbation scenarios. The model results highlight a realistic simulation of the 1st indirect (Twomey) effect. However, the rainfall was not overly sensitive to the aerosol perturbations and not statistically significant at the 95% confidence interval. The oversimplified parameterization of ice phase processes, a dominant cloud formation process over the Himalayas, appears to play a crucial role in buffering the sensitivity to increased aerosol loading. Our results, however, show that aerosol perturbations may modify shape, size and spatial distribution of individual cloud and their precipitation production. In contrast, the impact of temperature perturbations is more than the aerosol effect, ranging from -17% to +93%, which is statistically significant at the 95% confidence interval, suggesting that more intense rain events are likely as the climate warms in this region.