06 Sep 2023
 | 06 Sep 2023
Status: this preprint is open for discussion and under review for Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP).

Measurement report: Influence of long-range transported dust on cirrus cloud formation over remote ocean: Case studies near Midway Island, Pacific

Huijia Shen, Zhenping Yin, Yun He, Longlong Wang, Yifan Zhan, and Dongzhe Jing

Abstract. Cirrus clouds play an essential role in regulating the global radiative balance and climate by both reflecting the incoming shortwave solar radiation and reserving the outgoing longwave radiation in the atmosphere. The cirrus-induced net radiative forcing is mainly determined by their microphysical properties, which are strongly associated with the competition between two ice-nucleating mechanisms, i.e., heterogeneous and homogeneous nucleation. However, it is still not well understood whether the long-range transoceanic dust can potentially urge heterogeneous nucleation to the initial ice formation in cirrus clouds even farther over vast remote ocean regions and the response of dominant ice-nucleating mechanism to the concentrations of available ice nucleating particles (INPs). Here we report on the influence of transpacific dust plumes on the ice formation in cirrus clouds via heterogeneous nucleation based on the combined observations of space-borne instruments, i.e., the Cloud-Aerosol Lidar with Orthogonal Polarization (CALIOP) and Cloud Profiling Radar (CPR). Two cases near Midway Island (28.21° N, 177.38° W), located in the central Pacific, are studied, in which the long-range transported dust plumes originate from intense Asian dust events. For both cases, partial cloud parcels show the typical in-cloud ice crystal number concentrations (ICNC) of <100 L-1 for heterogeneous nucleation with a good agreement (within an order of magnitude) of in-cloud ICNC and nearby dust-related INP concentration (INPC) values, indicating that dust-related heterogeneous nucleation is dominated in ice formation. In addition, for the other parts of clouds without sufficient INP supply, homogeneous nucleation can still be dominated with ICNC values exceeding 300 L-1. Therefore, dust events with sufficient intensity are capable of conducting long-range transport and influencing cirrus formation over remote ocean regions. This study shows that the natural supply of effective INPs to the upper troposphere, such as long-range transported dust aerosols can increase the cloud cover to reflect more solar radiation over oceanic regions and modulate the microphysical properties of cirrus clouds through different ice-nucleating regimes, both of which may further result in a cooling effect on global climate and should be well considered in climate evaluation.

Huijia Shen et al.

Status: open (until 18 Oct 2023)

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  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-1844', Anonymous Referee #1, 03 Oct 2023 reply

Huijia Shen et al.

Data sets

Cloud–Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observation data base CALIPSO

Cloud properties combining the CloudSat radar and the CALIPSO lidar measurment from raDAR/liDAR data base DARDAR

MERRA-2 inst3_3d_aer_Nv: 3d,3-Hourly, Instantaneous, Model-Level, 490 Assimilation, Aerosol Mixing Ratio V5.12.4 Global Modeling and Assimilation Office (GMAO) (2015)

AERONET Aerosol Inversion (V3) database, Aerosol Robotic Network [data set] AERONET

Huijia Shen et al.


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Short summary
With space-borne lidar and radar observations, we study two dust-cirrus interaction cases near Midway Island in the central Pacific. Partial cloud parcels show evident feature of the dominance of heterogeneous nucleation. At the upper troposphere, natural INPs such as dust and smoke may result in cooling effect by increasing the cloud cover to reflect more solar radiation and modulate the cirrus microphysical properties via different ice-nucleating regimes.