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Volume 11, issue 15 | Copyright

Special issue: POLARCAT (Polar Study using Aircraft, Remote Sensing, Surface...

Atmos. Chem. Phys., 11, 8003-8015, 2011
© Author(s) 2011. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 05 Aug 2011

Research article | 05 Aug 2011

Cloud condensation nuclei as a modulator of ice processes in Arctic mixed-phase clouds

S. Lance1,2, M. D. Shupe2,3, G. Feingold1, C. A. Brock1, J. Cozic1,2, J. S. Holloway1,2, R. H. Moore4, A. Nenes4,5, J. P. Schwarz1,2, J. R. Spackman1,2, K. D. Froyd1,2, D. M. Murphy1, J. Brioude1,2, O. R. Cooper1,2, A. Stohl6, and J. F. Burkhart6,7 S. Lance et al.
  • 1Chemical Sciences Division, Earth System Research Laboratory, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Boulder, CO, USA
  • 2Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO, USA
  • 3Physical Sciences Division, Earth System Research Laboratory, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Boulder, CO, USA
  • 4School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA, USA
  • 5School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA, USA
  • 6Norwegian Institute for Air Research, Kjeller, Norway
  • 7Sierra Nevada Research Institute, University of California, Merced, CA, USA

Abstract. We propose that cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) concentrations are important for modulating ice formation of Arctic mixed-phase clouds, through modification of the droplet size distribution. Aircraft observations from the Aerosol, Radiation, and Cloud Processes affecting Arctic Climate (ARCPAC) study in northern Alaska in April 2008 allow for identification and characterization of both aerosol and trace gas pollutants, which are then compared with cloud microphysical properties. Consistent with previous studies, we find that the concentration of precipitating ice particles (>400 μm) is correlated with the concentration of large droplets (>30 μm). We are further able to link the observed microphysical conditions to aerosol pollution, originating mainly from long range transport of biomass burning emissions. The case studies demonstrate that polluted mixed-phase clouds have narrower droplet size distributions and contain 1–2 orders of magnitude fewer precipitating ice particles than clean clouds at the same temperature. This suggests an aerosol indirect effect leading to greater cloud lifetime, greater cloud emissivity, and reduced precipitation. This result is opposite to the glaciation indirect effect, whereby polluted clouds are expected to precipitate more readily due to an increase in the concentration of particles acting as ice nuclei.

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