Clouds at Arctic Atmospheric Observatories. Part I: Occurrence and Macrophysical Properties
Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology
Cloud observations over the past decade from six Arctic atmospheric observatories are investigated to derive estimates of cloud occurrence fraction, vertical distribution, persistence in time, diurnal cycle, and boundary statistics. Each observatory has some combination of cloud lidar, radar, ceilometer, and/or interferometer for identifying and characterizing clouds. By optimally combining measurements from these instruments, it is found that annual cloud occurrence fractions are 58%-83% at
... s are 58%-83% at the Arctic observatories. There is a clear annual cycle wherein clouds are least frequent in the winter and most frequent in the late summer and autumn. Only in Eureka, Nunavut, Canada, is the annual cycle shifted such that the annual minimum is in the spring with the maximum in the winter. Intersite monthly variability is typically within 10%-15% of the all-site average. Interannual variability at specific sites is less than 13% for any given month and, typically, is less than 3% for annual total cloud fractions. Low-level clouds are most persistent at the observatories. The median cloud persistence for all observatories is 3-5 h; however, 5% of cloud systems at far western Arctic sites are observed to occur for longer than 100 consecutive hours. Weak diurnal variability in cloudiness is observed at some sites, with a daily minimum in cloud occurrence near solar noon for those seasons for which the sun is above the horizon for at least part of the day.