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Discussion papers | Copyright
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2018-819
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 17 Oct 2018

Research article | 17 Oct 2018

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This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP).

Super-cooled liquid fogs over the central Greenland ice sheet

Christopher J. Cox1,2, David C. Noone3, Max Berkelhammer4, Matthew D. Shupe1,2, William D. Neff1,2, Nathaniel B. Miller1, Von P. Walden5, and Konrad Steffen6 Christopher J. Cox et al.
  • 1Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, Boulder, Colorado, 80309, USA
  • 2NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory, Boulder, Colorado, 80305, USA
  • 3College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon, 97331, USA
  • 4Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, 60607, USA
  • 5Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Washington State University, Pullman, Washington, 99164, USA
  • 6Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL, Birmensdorf, 8903, Switzerland

Abstract. Radiation fogs at Summit, Greenland (72.58°N, 38.48°W, 3210masl) are frequently reported by observers. The fogs are often accompanied by fogbows, indicating the particles are composed of liquid and because of the low temperatures at Summit, this liquid is super-cooled. Here we analyse the formation of these fogs as well as their physical and radiative properties. In situ observations of particle size and droplet number concentration were made using scattering spectrometers near 2m and 10m height from 2012 to 2014. These data are complemented by co-located observations of meteorology, turbulent and radiative fluxes, and remote sensing. We find that liquid fogs occur in all seasons with the highest frequency in September and a minimum in April. Due to the characteristics of the boundary-layer meteorology, the fogs are elevated, forming between 2m and 10m and the particles then fall toward the surface. The diameter of mature particles is typically 20–25μm in summer. Number concentrations are higher at warmer temperatures and, thus, higher in summer compared to winter. The fogs form at temperatures as warm as warm as −5°C, while the coldest form at temperatures approaching −40°C. Facilitated by the elevated condensation, in winter 2/3 of fogs occurred within a relatively warm layer above the surface when the near-surface air is below −40°C, as cold as −57°C, which is well below that which can support liquid water. This implies that fog particles settling through this layer of cold air freeze in the air column before contacting the surface, thereby accumulating at the surface as ice without riming. Liquid fogs under otherwise clear skies impart annually 1.5Wm−2 of cloud radiative forcing (CRF). While this is a relatively small contribution to the surface radiation climatology, individual events are influential. The mean CRF during liquid fog events is 26Wm−2, but can sometimes be much higher. An extreme case study was observed to radiatively force 5°C of surface warming during the coldest part of the day, effectively damping the diurnal cycle. At lower elevations of the ice sheet where melting is more common, such damping could signal a role for fogs in preconditioning the surface for melting later in the day.

Christopher J. Cox et al.
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Short summary
Fogs are frequently reported by observers on the Greenland Ice Sheet. Fogs play a role in the hydrological and energetic balances of the ice sheet surface, but as yet the properties of Greenland fogs are not well known. We observed fogs in all months from Summit Station to for two years and report their properties. Annually, fogs impart a slight warming of the surface and a case study suggests they are particularly influential by providing insulation during the coldest part of the day in summer.
Fogs are frequently reported by observers on the Greenland Ice Sheet. Fogs play a role in the...
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