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Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
17 Oct 2016
Review status
A revision of this discussion paper was accepted for the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP) and is expected to appear here in due course.
Microphysical sensitivity of coupled springtime Arctic stratocumulus to modelled primary ice over the ice pack, marginal ice, and ocean
Gillian Young, Paul J. Connolly, Hazel M. Jones, and Thomas W. Choularton Centre for Atmospheric Science, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK
Abstract. This study uses large eddy simulations to test the sensitivity of single-layer mixed-phase stratocumulus to primary ice number concentrations in the European Arctic. Observations from the Aerosol-Cloud Coupling and Climate Interactions in the Arctic (ACCACIA) campaign are considered for comparison with cloud microphysics modelled using the Large Eddy Model (LEM, UK Met. Office). We find that cloud structure is very sensitive to ice number concentrations, N_ice , and small increases can cause persisting mixed-phase clouds to glaciate and break up.

Three key sensitivities are identified with comparison to in situ cloud observations over the sea ice pack, marginal ice zone (MIZ), and ocean. Over sea ice, we find deposition-condensation ice formation rates are overestimated, leading to cloud glaciation. When ice formation is limited to water-saturated conditions, we find microphysics comparable to the aircraft observations over all surfaces considered. We show that warm supercooled (−13 °C) mixed-phase clouds over the MIZ are simulated to reasonable accuracy when using both the DeMott et al. (2010) and Cooper (1986) parameterisations. Over the ocean, we find a strong sensitivity of Arctic stratus to ice number concentrations. Cooper (1986) performs poorly at the lower ambient temperatures, leading to comparatively higher ice number concentrations (2.43 L−1 at the cloud top temperature, approximately −20 °C) and cloud glaciation. A small decrease in the predicted Nice (2.07 L−1 at −20 °C), using the DeMott et al. (2010) parameterisation, causes mixed-phase conditions to persist for 24 h over the ocean. However, this representation leads to the formation of convective structures which reduce the cloud liquid water through snow precipitation, promoting cloud break up. Decreasing the ice crystal number concentration further (0.54 L−1, using a relationship derived from ACCACIA observations) allows mixed-phase conditions to be maintained for at least 24 h with more stability in the liquid and ice water paths. Sensitivity to Nice is also evident at low number concentrations, where 0.1×Nice predicted by the DeMott et al. (2010) parameterisation results in the formation of rainbands within the model; rainbands which also act to deplete the liquid water in the cloud and promote break up.

Citation: Young, G., Connolly, P. J., Jones, H. M., and Choularton, T. W.: Microphysical sensitivity of coupled springtime Arctic stratocumulus to modelled primary ice over the ice pack, marginal ice, and ocean, Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., doi:10.5194/acp-2016-898, in review, 2016.
Gillian Young et al.
Gillian Young et al.


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