Observed microphysical changes in Arctic mixed-phase clouds when transitioning from sea ice to open ocean
Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Discussions
In situ airborne observations of cloud microphysics, aerosol properties and thermodynamic structure over the transition from sea ice to ocean are presented from the Aerosol-Cloud Coupling and Climate Interactions in the Arctic (ACCACIA) campaign. A case study from 23 March 2013 provides a unique view of the cloud microphysical changes over this transition under cold air outbreak conditions. Cloud base and depth both increased over this transition, and mean droplet number concentrations also
... entrations also increased from approximately 80 cm<sup>−3</sup> over the sea ice to 90 cm<sup>−3</sup> over the ocean. The ice properties of the cloud remained approximately constant. Observed ice crystal concentrations averaged approximately 0.5–1.5 L<sup>−1</sup>, suggesting only primary ice nucleation was active; however, there was evidence of crystal fragmentation at cloud base over the ocean. The liquid-water content increased almost four-fold over the transition and this, in conjunction with the deeper cloud layer, allowed rimed snowflakes to develop which precipitated out of cloud base. Little variation in aerosol particle number concentrations was observed between the different surface conditions; however, some variability with altitude was observed, with notably greater concentrations measured at higher altitudes (> 800 m) over the sea ice. Near-surface boundary layer temperatures increased by 13 °C from sea ice to ocean, with corresponding increases in surface heat fluxes and turbulent kinetic energy. These significant thermodynamic changes were concluded to be the primary driver of the microphysical evolution of the cloud. This study represents the first investigation, using in situ airborne observations, of cloud microphysical changes with changing sea ice cover and addresses the question of how the microphysics of Arctic stratiform clouds may change as the region warms and sea ice extent reduces.