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Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 11, issue 7 | Copyright
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 11, 3359-3373, 2011
© Author(s) 2011. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 08 Apr 2011

Research article | 08 Apr 2011

Space-based evaluation of interactions between aerosols and low-level Arctic clouds during the Spring and Summer of 2008

K. Tietze1,†, J. Riedi2, A. Stohl3, and T. J. Garrett1 K. Tietze et al.
  • 1Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, USA
  • 2Laboratoire d'Optique Atmosphérique, Université de Lille1/CNRS, France
  • 3Norwegian Institute for Air Research, Kjeller, Norway
  • deceased

Abstract. This study explores the indirect effects of anthropogenic and biomass burning aerosols on Arctic clouds by co-locating a combination of MODIS and POLDER cloud products with output from the FLEXPART tracer transport model. During the activities of the International Polar Year for the Spring and Summer of 2008, we find a high sensitivity of Arctic cloud radiative properties to both anthropogenic and biomass burning pollution plumes, particularly at air temperatures near freezing or potential temperatures near 286 K. However, the sensitivity is much lower at both colder and warmer temperatures, possibly due to increases in the wet and dry scavenging of cloud condensation nuclei: the pollution plumes remain but the component that influences Arctic clouds has been removed along transport pathways. The analysis shows that, independent of local temperature, cloud optical depth is approximately four times more sensitive to changes in pollution levels than is cloud effective radius. This suggests that some form of feedback mechanism amplifies the radiative response of Arctic clouds to pollution through changes in cloud liquid water path.

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