17 Jan 2024
 | 17 Jan 2024

Air mass history linked to the development of Arctic mixed-phase clouds

Rebecca J. Murray-Watson and Edward Gryspeerdt

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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Rebecca J. Murray-Watson and Edward Gryspeerdt

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • CC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2024-129', Xinyi Huang, 16 Feb 2024
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2024-129', Anonymous Referee #1, 04 Mar 2024
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2024-129', Abhay Devasthale, 04 Mar 2024
Rebecca J. Murray-Watson and Edward Gryspeerdt
Rebecca J. Murray-Watson and Edward Gryspeerdt


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Short summary
The formation of mixed-phase clouds during marine cold-air outbreaks is not well understood. Our study, using satellite data and Lagrangian trajectories, reveals that the occurrence of these clouds depends on both time and temperature, influenced partly by the presence of biological ice-nucleating particles. This highlights the importance of comprehending local aerosol dynamics for precise modeling of cloud phase transitions in the Arctic.