15 Mar 2023
 | 15 Mar 2023
Status: this preprint is open for discussion and under review for Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP).

Annual cycle of aerosol properties over the central Arctic during MOSAiC 2019–2020 — light-extinction, CCN, and INP levels from the boundary layer to the tropopause

Albert Ansmann, Kevin Ohneiser, Ronny Engelmann, Martin Radenz, Hannes Griesche, Julian Hofer, Dietrich Althausen, Jessie M. Creamean, Matthew C. Boyer, Daniel A. Knopf, Sandro Dahlke, Marion Maturilli, Henriette Gebauer, Johannes Bühl, Cristofer Jimenez, Patric Seifert, and Ulla Wandinger

Abstract. Continuous height-resolved observations of aerosol profiles over the central Arctic throughout a full year were performed for the first time. Such measurements covering aerosol layering features are required for an adequate modeling of Arctic climate conditions, especially with respect to a realistic consideration of cloud formation and here, in particular, of ice nucleation processes. MOSAiC (Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate) offered this favorable opportunity to monitor aerosol and clouds over the central Arctic over all four seasons, from October 2019 to September 2020. In this article, a summary of MOSAiC lidar observations aboard the icebreaker Polarstern of tropospheric aerosol products is presented. Particle optical properties, i.e., light-extinction profiles and aerosol optical thickness (AOT), and estimates of cloud-relevant aerosol properties (cloud condensation nucleus, CCN, and ice-nucleating particle concentrations, INPs) are discussed, separately for the lowest part of the troposphere (near the surface at 250 m height), within the lower free troposphere (2000 m height), and regarding INPs also near the tropopause (cirrus level, 8–10 km height). In situ observations of the particle number concentration and INPs aboard Polarstern are included in the study. Strong differences between summer and winter aerosol conditions were found. During the winter months (Arctic haze period) a strong decrease of the aerosol light extinction coefficient (532 nm) with height up to about 4–5 km height was found with values of 20–100 Mm-1 close to the surface and an order of magnitude less at 1500–2000 m height. Lofted aged wildfire smoke layers caused a re-increase of the aerosol concentration from the middle troposphere up to stratospheric heights and were continuously observable from October 2019 to May 2020. In summer (June to August 2020), much lower particle extinction coefficients, frequently as low as 1–5 Mm-1, were observed. Aerosol removal, controlled by cloud scavenging processes (widely suppressed in winter, very efficient in summer) in the lowermost 1–2 km of the atmosphere, seem to be the main reason for the strong differences between winter and summer aerosol conditions. In line with this pronounced annual cycle in the aerosol optical properties, CCN concentrations (0.2 % supersaturation level) ranged from 50–500 cm-3 in the atmospheric boundary layer (ABL) in winter and 1–40 cm-3 in summer. In the lower free troposphere, however, the CCN level was roughly constant throughout the year with values mostly from 30–100 cm-3. A strong contrast between winter to summer was also given in terms of ABL INPs which control ice production in low-level clouds. INP concentration of 0.01–0.2 L-1 prevailed in the ABL in winter at typical ice-nucleating cloud temperatures of -25 °C and assuming soil dust as the main INP type, and were roughly 2 orders of magnitude lower in the ABL in summer at typical cloud top temperatures of -10 °C. In the summer ABL, marine aerosol (biogenic components) is most probably the main INP type, continental INP contributions (e.g., soil dust INPs) are suppressed by efficient wet removal during long-range transport. A strong reduction in the INP population was also found in the lower free troposphere at 2000 m height from winter to summer (2 orders of magnitude), mostly due to the change in the prevailing ice-nucleation temperatures. Estimated INP concentration accumulated from 0.004–0.02 L-1 during the winter months. The highlight of the MOSAiC lidar studies was the detection of a persistent wildfire smoke layer in the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere from October 2019 to May 2020. The smoke particles (organic aerosol) triggered continuously cirrus formation at INP concentrations mostly from 1–20 L-1 close to the tropopause during the entire winter period.

Albert Ansmann et al.

Status: open (until 28 Apr 2023)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse

Albert Ansmann et al.

Albert Ansmann et al.


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Short summary
The one-year MOSAiC (2019–2020) expedition with the German ice breaker Polarstern was the largest polar field campaign ever conducted. The Polarstern with our lidar aboard drifted with the pack ice north of 85° N for more than seven months (October 2019 to mid–May 2020). We measured the full annual cycle of aerosol conditions in terms of aerosol optical and cloud-process-relevant properties. We observed a strong contrast between polluted winter and clean summer aerosol conditions.