Humidity observations in the Arctic troposphere over Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard based on 15 years of radiosonde data
1Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Telegrafenberg A45, 14473 Potsdam, Germany
2Department of Meteorology (MISU), Stockholm University, S 106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
3ITM – Department of Applied Environmental Science, Stockholm University, S 106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
4Alfred Wegner Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Am Handelshafen 12, 27570 Bremerhaven, Germany
5NASA Langley Research Center Hampton, VA 23681-2199, USA
Abstract. Water vapour is an important component in the radiative balance of the polar atmosphere. We present a study covering fifteen years of data of tropospheric humidity profiles measured with standard radiosondes at Ny-Ålesund (78°55' N 11°52' E) during the period from 1991 to 2006. It is well-known that relative humidity measurements are less reliable at low temperatures when measured with standard radiosondes. The data was corrected for errors and used to determine key characteristic features of the vertical and temporal relative humidity evolution in the Arctic troposphere over Ny-Ålesund. We present frequencies of occurrence of ice-supersaturation layers in the troposphere, their vertical span, temperature and statistical distribution. Supersaturation with respect to ice shows a clear seasonal behaviour. In winter, (October–February) it occurred in 19% of all cases and less frequently in spring (March–May 12%), and summer (June–September, 9%). Finally, the results are compared with findings from the SAGE II satellite instrument on subvisible clouds.