Small-Scale Spatial Variability of Ice Supersaturation and Cirrus in the TTL

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Joshua P DiGangi1, James Robert Podolske2, Mario Rana1,3, Thomas A Slate1,3 and Glenn S Diskin1, (1)NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, VA, United States, (2)NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA, United States, (3)Science Systems and Applications, Inc. Hampton, Hampton, VA, United States
The processes controlling cloud formation and evolution represent a significant uncertainty in models of global climate change. High altitude cirrus clouds contribute a large portion of this uncertainty due to their altitude and abundance. The mechanism behind the formation of cirrus clouds depends on the characteristics and composition of ice supersaturation (ISS) regions, regions where the relative humidity with respect to ice (RHi) is greater than 100%. Small-scale dynamics have recently been shown to have a strong effect on the RHi of the UT/LS, and therefore on cirrus cloud formation. Until now, there has been insufficient data in the Tropical Tropopause Layer (TTL) to investigate these effects. The Airborne Tropical TRopopause EXperiment (ATTREX) was a series of campaigns focused on improving our understanding of humidity in the TTL. During this campaign, the NASA Langley/Ames Diode Laser Hygrometer was part of the payload on the NASA Global Hawk, resulting in measurements of humidity with as low as 1-2 m vertical resolution at altitudes up to 19 km. We will present observations from ATTREX describing the small scale spatial variability of water vapor along transects of ISSRs and cirrus clouds, as well as the dynamics driving the formation of ISS regions. These results will be discussed in context with results from prior UT/LS campaigns, such as DC3 and HIPPO.