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Aerosol effects on convective clouds and climate mediated via radiative and microphysical perturbations remain highly uncertain. Microphysical perturbations are generally not included in current climate models due to the simplified representation of convective clouds in existing parameterisations. Progress has been made through regional cloud resolving modelling, however such simulations often neglect energy and water budget constraints and the coupling to larger scales. The emergence of global km-scale climate models provides a significant opportunity to advance our understanding of aerosol-convection interactions. Here we present results from a hierarchy of global km-scale atmospheric model simulations using ICON, investigating aerosol effects on convective clouds. Idealised model simulations, in which aerosols are prescribed as fixed plumes of radiative properties, with an optional associated semi-empirical scaling of droplet number perturbations, provide fascinating insights into the physical processes underlying aerosol effects on convection and into the interaction of local perturbations with the larger scale dynamics – but neglect key aerosol-convection interactions. These simulations highlight the importance of the radiatively mediated pathway for tropical convective clouds, with significant impacts on the diurnal cycle of cloud properties and precipitation over the Amazon and the Congo basin – and interactions with the large-scale dynamics for perturbations over the Pacific warm pool region. We contrast our results from idealised simulations with simulations including explicit aerosols, enabled by a novel reduced complexity aerosol scheme suitable for global km-scale models, HAM-Lite. Comparison of the idealised simulations with prescribed aerosol perturbations and the simulations with explicit aerosols, provides new insights into the complexity of aerosol-convection interactions. This study provides a testbed for a future global km-scale model intercomparison project focusing on aerosol effects as part of the GEWEX Aerosol Precipitation (GAP) initiative.

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