In-situ aircraft observations of ice concentrations within clouds over the Antarctic Peninsula and Larsen Ice Shelf
1University of Manchester, Centre for Atmospheric Science, SEAES, Manchester, UK
2British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge, UK
3National Centre for Atmospheric Science, University of Manchester, UK
*now at: Department of Atmospheric Science, University of Washington, Seattle, USA
Abstract. In-situ aircraft observations of ice crystal concentrations in Antarctic clouds are presented for the first time. Orographic, layer and wave clouds around the Antarctic Peninsula and Larsen Ice shelf regions were penetrated by the British Antarctic Survey's Twin Otter aircraft, which was equipped with modern cloud physics probes. The clouds studied were mostly in the free troposphere and hence ice crystals blown from the surface are unlikely to have been a major source for the ice phase. The temperature range covered by the experiments was 0 to −21 °C. The clouds were found to contain supercooled liquid water in most regions and at heterogeneous ice formation temperatures ice crystal concentrations (60 s averages) were often less than 0.07 l−1, although values up to 0.22 l−1 were observed. Estimates of observed aerosol concentrations were used as input into the DeMott et al. (2010) ice nuclei (IN) parameterisation. The observed ice crystal number concentrations were generally in broad agreement with the IN predictions, although on the whole the predicted values were higher. Possible reasons for this are discussed and include the lack of IN observations in this region with which to characterise the parameterisation, and/or problems in relating ice concentration measurements to IN concentrations. Other IN parameterisations significantly overestimated the number of ice particles. Generally ice particle concentrations were much lower than found in clouds in middle latitudes for a given temperature.
Higher ice crystal concentrations were sometimes observed at temperatures warmer than −9 °C, with values of several per litre reached. These were attributable to secondary ice particle production by the Hallett Mossop process. Even in this temperature range it was observed that there were regions with little or no ice that were dominated by supercooled liquid water. It is likely that in some cases this was due to a lack of seeding ice crystals to act as rimers to initiate secondary ice particle production. This highlights the chaotic and spatially inhomogeneous nature of this process and indicates that the accurate representation of it in global models is likely to represent a challenge. However, the contrast between Hallett Mossop zone ice concentrations and the fairly low concentrations of heterogeneously nucleated ice suggests that the Hallet Mossop process has the potential to be very important in remote, pristine regions such as around the Antarctic coast.