Articles | Volume 13, issue 13
Research article
08 Jul 2013
Research article |  | 08 Jul 2013

Ice water content of Arctic, midlatitude, and tropical cirrus – Part 2: Extension of the database and new statistical analysis

A. E. Luebke, L. M. Avallone, C. Schiller, J. Meyer, C. Rolf, and M. Krämer

Abstract. Ice clouds are known to be major contributors to radiative forcing in the Earth's atmosphere, yet describing their microphysical properties in climate models remains challenging. Among these properties, the ice water content (IWC) of cirrus clouds is of particular interest both because it is measurable and because it can be directly related to a number of other radiatively important variables such as extinction and effective radius. This study expands upon the work of Schiller et al. (2008), extending a climatology of IWC by combining datasets from several European and US airborne campaigns and ground-based lidar measurements over Jülich, Germany. The relationship between IWC and temperature is further investigated using the new merged dataset and probability distribution functions (PDFs). A PDF-based formulation allows for representation of not only the mean values of IWC, but also the variability of IWC within a temperature band. The IWC-PDFs are observed to be bimodal over the whole cirrus temperature range. This bimodality is also found in ice crystal number PDFs and might be attributed to different cirrus formation mechanisms such as heterogeneous and homogeneous freezing.

Final-revised paper