The Southern Ocean Clouds, Radiation, Aerosol Transport Experimental Study (SOCRATES): An Observational Campaign for Determining Role of Clouds, Aerosols and Radiation in Climate System

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Greg M McFarquhar, Univ Illinois, Urbana, IL, United States, Robert Wood, Univ Washington, Seattle, WA, United States, Christopher Stephen Bretherton, University of Washington Seattle Campus, Seattle, WA, United States, Simon Alexander, Australian Antarctic Division, Kingston, Australia, Christian Jakob, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia, Roger Marchand, University of Washington, Department of Atmospheric Sciences, Seattle, WA, United States, Alain Protat, Bureau of Meteorology, Melbourne, Australia, Patricia Quinn, NOAA/PMEL, Seattle, WA, United States, Steven Thomas Siems, Monash University, Monash UNI, VIC, Australia and Robert A Weller, WHOI, Monument Beach, MA, United States
The Southern Ocean (SO) region is one of the cloudiest on Earth, and as such clouds determine its albedo and play a major role in climate. Evidence shows Earth's climate sensitivity and the Intertropical Convergence Zone location depend upon SO clouds. But, climate models are challenged by uncertainties and biases in the simulation of clouds, aerosols, and air-sea exchanges in this region which trace back to a poor process-level understanding. Due to the SO’s remote location, there have been sparse observations of clouds, aerosols, precipitation, radiation and the air-sea interface apart from those from satellites.

Plans for an upcoming observational program, SOCRATES, are outlined. Based on feedback on observational and modeling requirements from a 2014 workshop conducted at the University of Washington, a plan is described for obtaining a comprehensive dataset on the boundary-layer structure and associated vertical distributions of liquid and mixed-phase cloud and aerosol properties across a range of synoptic settings, especially in the cold sector of cyclonic storms. Four science themes are developed: improved climate model simulation of SO cloud and boundary layer structure in a rapidly varying synoptic setting; understanding seasonal and synoptic variability in SO cloud condensation and ice nucleus concentration and the role of local biogenic sources; understanding supercooled liquid and mixed-phase clouds and their impacts; and advancing retrievals of clouds, precipitation, aerosols, radiation and surface fluxes. Testable hypotheses for each theme are identified.

The observational strategy consists of long-term ground-based observations from Macquarie Island and Davis, continuous data collection onboard Antarctic supply ships, satellite retrievals, and a dedicated field campaign covering 2 distinct seasons using in-situ and remote sensors on low- and high-altitude aircraft, UAVs, and a ship-borne platform. A timeline for these activities is proposed.