Small-scale structure of thermodynamic phase in Arctic mixed-phase clouds observed by airborne remote sensing during a cold air outbreak and a warm air advection event

Ruiz-Donoso, Elena; Ehrlich, André; Schäfer, Michael; Jäkel, Evelyn; Schemann, Vera; Crewell, Susanne; Mech, Mario; Kulla, Birte Solveig; Kliesch, Leif-Leonard; Neuber, Roland; Wendisch, Manfred

The combination of downward-looking airborne lidar, radar, microwave, and imaging spectrometer measurements was exploited to characterize the vertical and small-scale (down to 10 m) horizontal distribution of the thermodynamic phase of low-level Arctic mixed-layer clouds. Two cloud cases observed in a cold air outbreak and a warm air advection event observed during the Arctic CLoud Observations Using airborne measurements during polar Day (ACLOUD) campaign were investigated. Both cloud cases exhibited the typical vertical mixed-phase structure with mostly liquid water droplets at cloud top and ice crystals in lower layers. The horizontal, small-scale distribution of the thermodynamic phase as observed during the cold air outbreak is dominated by the liquid water close to the cloud top and shows no indication of ice in lower cloud layers. Contrastingly, the cloud top variability in the case observed during a warm air advection showed some ice in areas of low reflectivity or cloud holes. Radiative transfer simulations considering homogeneous mixtures of liquid water droplets and ice crystals were able to reproduce the horizontal variability in this warm air advection. Large eddy simulations (LESs) were performed to reconstruct the observed cloud properties, which were used subsequently as input for radiative transfer simulations. The LESs of the cloud case observed during the cold air outbreak, with mostly liquid water at cloud top, realistically reproduced the observations. For the warm air advection case, the simulated ice water content (IWC) was systematically lower than the measured IWC. Nevertheless, the LESs revealed the presence of ice particles close to the cloud top and confirmed the observed horizontal variability in the cloud field. It is concluded that the cloud top small-scale horizontal variability is directly linked to changes in the vertical distribution of the cloud thermodynamic phase. Passive satellite-borne imaging spectrometer observations with pixel sizes larger than 100 m miss the small-scale cloud top structures.

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Ruiz-Donoso, Elena / Ehrlich, André / Schäfer, Michael / et al: Small-scale structure of thermodynamic phase in Arctic mixed-phase clouds observed by airborne remote sensing during a cold air outbreak and a warm air advection event. 2020. Copernicus Publications.

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