Multi-Sensor Investigation of a Regional High-Arctic Cloudy Event
Wednesday, 17 December 2014
A regional high-Arctic cloud event observed in March, 2011 at the PEARL Observatory, near the Eureka Weather Station (80°N, 86°W), was investigated with a view to better understanding cloud formation mechanisms during the Polar night. We analysed the temporal cloud evolution with a suite of nighttime, ground-based remote sensing (RS) instruments, supplemented by radiosonde profiles and surface weather measurements. The RS suite included Raman lidar, cloud radar, a star-photometer and microwave-radiometers. In order to estimate the spatial extent and vertical variability of the cloud mass, we employed satellite-based lidar (CALIPSO) and radar (CloudSat) profiles in the regional neighbourhood of Eureka (at a latitude of 80°N, Eureka benefits from a high frequency of CALIPSO and CloudSat overpasses). The ground-based and satellite-based observations provide quantitative measurements of extensive (bulk) properties (cloud and aerosol optical depths), and intensive (per particle properties) such as aerosol and cloud particle size as well as shape, density and aggregation phase of the cloud particulates. All observations were then compared with the upper atmosphere NCEP/NCAR reanalyses in order to understand better the synoptic context of the cloud mass dynamics as a function of key meteorological parameters such as upper air temperature and water vapor circulation. Preliminary results indicated the presence of a particular type of thin ice cloud (TIC-2) associated with a deep and stable atmospheric low. A classification into small and large ice crystal size (< 40 µm and > 40 µm, respectively), identifies the clouds as TIC-1 or TIC-2. This classification is hypothesized to be associated with the nature of the aerosols (non-anthropogenic versus anthropogenic) serving as ice nuclei in their formation. Such a distinction has important implications on the initiation of precipitation, removal rate of the cloud particles and, in consequence, the radiative forcing properties on a regional basis.