Publication Date

Summer 2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Meteorology and Climate Science


Minghui Diao; Craig Clements; Xiaohong Liu


Cirrus clouds are located at high altitudes and are composed of ice crystals. The unique location of cirrus clouds and their large variability in-cloud microphysical properties allow them to have either warming or cooling effects on Earth’s surface and affect the Earth’s energy budget on a global scale. The examination of cirrus radiative effects is further complicated by multiple factors affecting their formation and evolution, including the effects of thermodynamic, dynamic, aerosol, and chemical tracer variables. In this work, we developed a composite aircraft-based in-situ observation dataset based on seven National Science Foundation (NSF) and five NASA flight campaigns that allows for an investigation of aerosol indirect effects on microphysical properties of cirrus clouds in various regions. Observations from one NASA campaign are compared with collocated simulations of the NASA Goddard Earth Observing System 5 (GEOS5) climate model. A machine learning (ML) method has also been developed by using the combined dataset to quantify aerosol indirect effects on two types of cirrus – convective versus in-situ origin cirrus, while constraining other factors such as temperature, relative humidity, vertical velocity. Chemical tracers such as black carbon, carbon monoxide, and ozone are used to contrast cirrus microphysical properties and aerosol indirect effects between clean and polluted regions. Overall, the approach developed in this work can quantify the significance of several key factors affecting cirrus microphysical properties at various geographical locations under different levels of anthropogenic influences.

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