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© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 08 Jul 2019

Submitted as: research article | 08 Jul 2019

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

Low-level mixed-phase clouds in a complex Arctic environment

Rosa Gierens1, Stefan Kneifel1, Matthew D. Shupe2,3, Kerstin Ebell1, Marion Maturilli4, and Ulrich Löhnert1 Rosa Gierens et al.
  • 1Institute for Geophysics and Meteorology, University of Cologne
  • 2Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Science, University of Colorado
  • 3NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory, Physical Science Division
  • 4Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Potsdam, Germany

Abstract. Low-level mixed-phase clouds (MPC) are common in the Arctic. Both local and large scale phenomena influence the properties and lifetime of MPC. Arctic fjords are characterized by complex terrain and large variations in surface properties. Yet, not many studies have investigated the impact of local boundary layer dynamics and their relative importance on MPC in the fjord environment. In this work, we used a combination of ground-based remote sensing instruments, surface meteorological observations, radiosoundings, and reanalysis data to study persistent low-level MPC at Ny Ålesund, Svalbard, for a 2.5 year period. Methods to identify the cloud regime, surface coupling, as well as regional and local wind patterns were developed. We found that persistent MPCs were most common with westerly winds, and the westerly clouds had a higher mean liquid (42 g m−2) and ice water path (16 g m−2) compared to the overall mean of 35 and 12 g m−2, respectively. Most of the studied MPCs were decoupled from the surface (63–82 % of the time). The coupled clouds had 41 % higher liquid water path than the fully decoupled ones. Local winds in the fjord were related to the frequency of surface coupling, and we propose that katabatic winds from the glaciers in the vicinity of the station may cause clouds to decouple. Furthermore, the near surface wind direction from the open sea was related to higher amounts of cloud liquid, and higher likelihood of coupling.We concluded that while the regional to large scale wind direction was important for the persistent MPC occurrence and its properties, also the local scale phenomena (local wind patterns in the fjord and surface coupling) had an influence. Moreover, this suggests that local boundary layer processes should be described in models in order to present low-level MPC properties accurately.

Rosa Gierens et al.
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Status: final response (author comments only)
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Rosa Gierens et al.
Data sets

Homogenized radiosonde record at station Ny-Ålesund, Spitsbergen, 1993-2014 M. Maturilli and M. Kayser

Homogenized radiosonde record at station Ny-Ålesund, Spitsbergen, 2015-2016 M. Maturilli and M. Kayser

HATPRO microwave radiometer measurements at AWIPEV, Ny-Ålesund (2016-2018) T. Nomokonova, C. Ritter, and K. Ebell

Cloud microphysical properties retrieved from ground-based remote sensing at Ny-Ålesund (10 June 2016 - 8 October 2018) T. Nomokonova and K. Ebell

ETOPO1 1 Arc-Minute Global Relief Model C. Amante and B. Eakins

Kartdata Svalbard 1:100 000 Norwegian Polar Institute

Rosa Gierens et al.
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Short summary
Multi-year statistics of persistent low-level mixed-phase clouds observed at an Arctic fjord environment in Svalbard are presented. The effects the local boundary layer (i.e. the fjords wind climate and surface coupling) as well as the regional wind direction have on the clouds occurrence and properties are evaluated using a synergy of ground-based remote sensing methods and auxiliary data. The phenomena considered were found to modify the amount of liquid and ice in the studied clouds.
Multi-year statistics of persistent low-level mixed-phase clouds observed at an Arctic fjord...