Does a relationship between Arctic low clouds and sea ice matter?

Patrick C. Taylor
Arctic low clouds strongly affect the Arctic surface energy budget. Through this impact Arctic low clouds influence important aspects of the Arctic climate system, namely surface and atmospheric temperature, sea ice extent and thickness, and atmospheric circulation. Arctic clouds are in turn influenced by these elements of the Arctic climate system, and these interactions create the potential for Arctic cloud-climate feedbacks. To further our understanding of potential Arctic cloudclimate
more » ... cloudclimate feedbacks, the goal of this paper is to quantify the influence of atmospheric state on the surface cloud radiative effect (CRE) and its covariation with sea ice concentration (SIC). We build on previous research using instantaneous, active remote sensing satellite footprint data from the NASA A-Train. First, the results indicate significant differences in the surface CRE when stratified by atmospheric state. Second, there is a weak covariation between CRE and SIC for most atmospheric conditions. Third, the results show statistically significant differences in the average surface CRE under different SIC values in fall indicating a 3-5 W m -2 larger LW CRE in 0% versus 100% SIC footprints. Because systematic changes on the order of 1 W m -2 are sufficient to explain the observed long-term reductions in sea ice extent, our results indicate a potentially significant amplifying sea ice-cloud feedback, under certain meteorological conditions, that could delay the fall freeze-up and influence the variability in sea ice extent and volume. Lastly, a small change in the frequency of occurrence of atmosphere states may yield a larger Arctic cloud feedback than any cloud response to sea ice.
doi:10.1063/1.4975530 fatcat:55wxxkbdpre6lacdh5p56lafb4