Articles | Volume 11, issue 12
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 11, 5569–5590, 2011

Special issue: SCOUT-O3 Tropics

Special issue: AMMA Tropospheric Chemistry and Aerosols

Atmos. Chem. Phys., 11, 5569–5590, 2011

Research article 16 Jun 2011

Research article | 16 Jun 2011

In situ measurements of tropical cloud properties in the West African Monsoon: upper tropospheric ice clouds, Mesoscale Convective System outflow, and subvisual cirrus

W. Frey1, S. Borrmann1,2, D. Kunkel1, R. Weigel2, M. de Reus3, H. Schlager4, A. Roiger4, C. Voigt2,4, P. Hoor2, J. Curtius5, M. Krämer6, C. Schiller6, C. M. Volk7, C. D. Homan7,*, F. Fierli8, G. Di Donfrancesco9, A. Ulanovsky10, F. Ravegnani8, N. M. Sitnikov10, S. Viciani11, F. D'Amato11, G. N. Shur10, G. V. Belyaev12, K. S. Law13, and F. Cairo8 W. Frey et al.
  • 1Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Particle Chemistry Department, Mainz, Germany
  • 2Institute for Atmospheric Physics, Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz, Germany
  • 3Elementar Analysensysteme GmbH, Hanau, Germany
  • 4Institut für Physik der Atmosphäre, DLR, Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany
  • 5Institute for Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, Frankfurt University, Frankfurt, Germany
  • 6Forschungszentrum Jülich, IEK-7, Jülich, Germany
  • 7Department of Physics, University of Wuppertal, Germany
  • 8Institute of Atmospheric Science and Climate, ISAC-CNR, Rome, Italy
  • 9Ente Nazionale per le Nuove tecnologie, l'Energia e l'Ambiente, Frascati, Italy
  • 10Central Aerological Observatory, Dolgoprudny, Moskow Region, Russia
  • 11CNR-INO National Institute of Optics, Florence, Italy
  • 12MDB-Myasishchev Design Bureau, Zhukovsky-5, Moscow Region, Russia
  • 13UPMC Univ. Paris 06, Université Versailles St-Quentin, CNRS/INSU, LATMOS-IPSL, Paris, France
  • *now at: KNMI, De Bilt, The Netherlands

Abstract. In situ measurements of ice crystal size distributions in tropical upper troposphere/lower stratosphere (UT/LS) clouds were performed during the SCOUT-AMMA campaign over West Africa in August 2006. The cloud properties were measured with a Forward Scattering Spectrometer Probe (FSSP-100) and a Cloud Imaging Probe (CIP) operated aboard the Russian high altitude research aircraft M-55 Geophysica with the mission base in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. A total of 117 ice particle size distributions were obtained from the measurements in the vicinity of Mesoscale Convective Systems (MCS). Two to four modal lognormal size distributions were fitted to the average size distributions for different potential temperature bins. The measurements showed proportionately more large ice particles compared to former measurements above maritime regions. With the help of trace gas measurements of NO, NOy, CO2, CO, and O3 and satellite images, clouds in young and aged MCS outflow were identified. These events were observed at altitudes of 11.0 km to 14.2 km corresponding to potential temperature levels of 346 K to 356 K. In a young outflow from a developing MCS ice crystal number concentrations of up to (8.3 ± 1.6) cm−3 and rimed ice particles with maximum dimensions exceeding 1.5 mm were found. A maximum ice water content of 0.05 g m−3 was observed and an effective radius of about 90 μm. In contrast the aged outflow events were more diluted and showed a maximum number concentration of 0.03 cm−3, an ice water content of 2.3 × 10−4 g m−3, an effective radius of about 18 μm, while the largest particles had a maximum dimension of 61 μm.

Close to the tropopause subvisual cirrus were encountered four times at altitudes of 15 km to 16.4 km. The mean ice particle number concentration of these encounters was 0.01 cm−3 with maximum particle sizes of 130 μm, and the mean ice water content was about 1.4 × 10−4 g m−3. All known in situ measurements of subvisual tropopause cirrus are compared and an exponential fit on the size distributions is established for modelling purposes.

A comparison of aerosol to ice crystal number concentrations, in order to obtain an estimate on how many ice particles may result from activation of the present aerosol, yielded low ratios for the subvisual cirrus cases of roughly one cloud particle per 30 000 aerosol particles, while for the MCS outflow cases this resulted in a high ratio of one cloud particle per 300 aerosol particles.

Final-revised paper