Air mass history linked to the development of Arctic mixed-phase clouds
Abstract. Clouds formed during marine cold-air outbreaks (MCAOs) exhibit a distinct transition from stratocumulus decks near the ice edge to broken cumuliform fields further downwind. The mechanisms associated with ice formation are believed to be crucial in driving this transition, yet the factors influencing such formation remain unclear. Through Lagrangian trajectories co-located with satellite data, this study investigates into the development of mixed-phase clouds using these outbreaks. Cloud formed in MCAOs are characterized by a swift shift from liquid to ice-containing states, contrasting with non-MCAO clouds also moving off the ice edge. These mixed-phase clouds are predominantly observed at temperatures below -20 °C near the ice edge. However, further into the outbreak, they become the dominant at temperatures as high as -13 °C. This shift is consistent with the influence of biological ice nucleating particles (INPs), which become more prevalent as the air mass ages over the ocean. The evolution of these clouds is closely linked to the history of the air mass, especially the length of time it spends over snow- and ice-covered surfaces, terrains may that be deficient in INPs. This connection also accounts for the observed seasonal variations in the development of Arctic clouds, both within and outside of MCAO events. The findings highlight the importance of understanding both local marine aerosol sources near the ice edge and the overarching INP distribution in the Arctic for modelling of cloud phase in the region.
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