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Title: Formation of Arctic Stratocumuli Through Atmospheric Radiative Cooling

Abstract

Stratocumulus clouds are important to the Arctic climate because they are prevalent and exert a strong radiative forcing on the surface. However, relatively little is known about how stratocumulus clouds form in the Arctic. In this study, radiative transfer calculations are used to show that the timescale over which stably stratified Arctic temperature and water vapor profiles cool to saturation is less than typical residence times for individual air parcels in the Arctic. This result is consistent with previous studies in suggesting that elevated stratocumulus can form naturally through clear-sky radiative cooling during all seasons, without assistance from frontal lifting or other atmospheric forcing. Single column model simulations of the cloud formation process, after radiative cooling has resulted in saturation in a stably stratified profile, suggest that stratocumulus cloud properties are sensitive to the characteristics of the environment in which the formation process takes place. For example, sensitivity tests suggest that clouds may attain liquid water paths of over 50 g/m 2 if they form in moist environments but may become locked in a low-liquid water path quasi steady state or dissipate within hours if they form in dry environments. A potential consequence of these sensitivities is that when anmore » Arctic stratocumulus layer forms by radiative cooling, it is more likely to become optically thick, optically thin, or dissipate than it is to obtain an intermediate optical thickness. This could help explain why the cloudy and radiatively clear atmospheric states are so prevalent across the Arctic.« less

Authors:
ORCiD logo [1]; ORCiD logo [1];  [1]; ORCiD logo [2]; ORCiD logo [3]; ORCiD logo [1]; ORCiD logo [4]
  1. Pennsylvania State Univ., University Park, PA (United States). Dept. of Meteorology and Atmospheric Science
  2. Univ. of Colorado and NOAA-Earth System Research Lab., Boulder, CO (United States). Cooperative Inst. for Research in Environmental Sciences
  3. Pennsylvania State Univ., University Park, PA (United States). Dept. of Meteorology and Atmospheric Science; Univ. of Colorado and NOAA-Earth System Research Lab., Boulder, CO (United States). Cooperative Inst. for Research in Environmental Sciences
  4. Lawrence Livermore National Lab. (LLNL), Livermore, CA (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Lawrence Livermore National Lab. (LLNL), Livermore, CA (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)
OSTI Identifier:
1570417
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1558814
Report Number(s):
LLNL-JRNL-764336
Journal ID: ISSN 2169-897X; 954439
Grant/Contract Number:  
AC52-07NA27344; AC52‐07NA27344; SC0013953
Resource Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 124; Journal Issue: 16; Journal ID: ISSN 2169-897X
Publisher:
American Geophysical Union
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; arctic stratocumulus; cloud formation; airmass transformation; radiative transfer; single column model; Arctic climate

Citation Formats

Simpfendoerfer, Lucien F., Verlinde, Johannes, Harrington, Jerry Y., Shupe, Matthew D., Chen, Yao‐Sheng, Clothiaux, Eugene E., and Golaz, Jean‐Christophe. Formation of Arctic Stratocumuli Through Atmospheric Radiative Cooling. United States: N. p., 2019. Web. doi:10.1029/2018JD030189.
Simpfendoerfer, Lucien F., Verlinde, Johannes, Harrington, Jerry Y., Shupe, Matthew D., Chen, Yao‐Sheng, Clothiaux, Eugene E., & Golaz, Jean‐Christophe. Formation of Arctic Stratocumuli Through Atmospheric Radiative Cooling. United States. doi:10.1029/2018JD030189.
Simpfendoerfer, Lucien F., Verlinde, Johannes, Harrington, Jerry Y., Shupe, Matthew D., Chen, Yao‐Sheng, Clothiaux, Eugene E., and Golaz, Jean‐Christophe. Tue . "Formation of Arctic Stratocumuli Through Atmospheric Radiative Cooling". United States. doi:10.1029/2018JD030189.
@article{osti_1570417,
title = {Formation of Arctic Stratocumuli Through Atmospheric Radiative Cooling},
author = {Simpfendoerfer, Lucien F. and Verlinde, Johannes and Harrington, Jerry Y. and Shupe, Matthew D. and Chen, Yao‐Sheng and Clothiaux, Eugene E. and Golaz, Jean‐Christophe},
abstractNote = {Stratocumulus clouds are important to the Arctic climate because they are prevalent and exert a strong radiative forcing on the surface. However, relatively little is known about how stratocumulus clouds form in the Arctic. In this study, radiative transfer calculations are used to show that the timescale over which stably stratified Arctic temperature and water vapor profiles cool to saturation is less than typical residence times for individual air parcels in the Arctic. This result is consistent with previous studies in suggesting that elevated stratocumulus can form naturally through clear-sky radiative cooling during all seasons, without assistance from frontal lifting or other atmospheric forcing. Single column model simulations of the cloud formation process, after radiative cooling has resulted in saturation in a stably stratified profile, suggest that stratocumulus cloud properties are sensitive to the characteristics of the environment in which the formation process takes place. For example, sensitivity tests suggest that clouds may attain liquid water paths of over 50 g/m2 if they form in moist environments but may become locked in a low-liquid water path quasi steady state or dissipate within hours if they form in dry environments. A potential consequence of these sensitivities is that when an Arctic stratocumulus layer forms by radiative cooling, it is more likely to become optically thick, optically thin, or dissipate than it is to obtain an intermediate optical thickness. This could help explain why the cloudy and radiatively clear atmospheric states are so prevalent across the Arctic.},
doi = {10.1029/2018JD030189},
journal = {Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres},
number = 16,
volume = 124,
place = {United States},
year = {2019},
month = {7}
}

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