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Title: Impact of Antarctic mixed-phase clouds on climate

Precious little is known about the composition of low-level clouds over the Antarctic Plateau and their effect on climate. In situ measurements at the South Pole using a unique tethered balloon system and ground-based lidar reveal a much higher than anticipated incidence of low-level, mixed-phase clouds (i.e., consisting of supercooled liquid water drops and ice crystals). The high incidence of mixed-phase clouds is currently poorly represented in global climate models (GCMs). As a result, the effects that mixed-phase clouds have on climate predictions are highly uncertain. In this paper, we modify the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Community Earth System Model (CESM) GCM to align with the new observations and evaluate the radiative effects on a continental scale. The net cloud radiative effects (CREs) over Antarctica are increased by +7.4 Wm –2, and although this is a significant change, a much larger effect occurs when the modified model physics are extended beyond the Antarctic continent. The simulations show significant net CRE over the Southern Ocean storm tracks, where recent measurements also indicate substantial regions of supercooled liquid. Finally, these sensitivity tests confirm that Southern Ocean CREs are strongly sensitive to mixed-phase clouds colder than –20 °C.
 [1] ;  [2]
  1. SPEC Inc., Boulder, CO (United States)
  2. National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO (United States)
Publication Date:
Grant/Contract Number:
SC0006269; SC0006702
Published Article
Journal Name:
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 111; Journal Issue: 51; Journal ID: ISSN 0027-8424
National Academy of Sciences, Washington, DC (United States)
Research Org:
SPEC Inc., Boulder, CO (United States); National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Biological and Environmental Research (BER) (SC-23)
Country of Publication:
United States
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; Antarctica; climate; mixed-phase; clouds
OSTI Identifier:
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1348403