Articles | Volume 17, issue 20
Research article
27 Oct 2017
Research article |  | 27 Oct 2017

Vertical distribution of microphysical properties of Arctic springtime low-level mixed-phase clouds over the Greenland and Norwegian seas

Guillaume Mioche, Olivier Jourdan, Julien Delanoë, Christophe Gourbeyre, Guy Febvre, Régis Dupuy, Marie Monier, Frédéric Szczap, Alfons Schwarzenboeck, and Jean-François Gayet

Abstract. This study aims to characterize the microphysical and optical properties of ice crystals and supercooled liquid droplets within low-level Arctic mixed-phase clouds (MPCs). We compiled and analyzed cloud in situ measurements from four airborne spring campaigns (representing 18 flights and 71 vertical profiles in MPCs) over the Greenland and Norwegian seas mainly in the vicinity of the Svalbard archipelago. Cloud phase discrimination and representative vertical profiles of the number, size, mass and shape of ice crystals and liquid droplets are established. The results show that the liquid phase dominates the upper part of the MPCs. High concentrations (120 cm−3 on average) of small droplets (mean values of 15 µm), with an averaged liquid water content (LWC) of 0.2 g m−3 are measured at cloud top. The ice phase dominates the microphysical properties in the lower part of the cloud and beneath it in the precipitation region (mean values of 100 µm, 3 L−1 and 0.025 g m−3 for diameter, particle concentration and ice water content (IWC), respectively). The analysis of the ice crystal morphology shows that the majority of ice particles are irregularly shaped or rimed particles; the prevailing regular habits found are stellars and plates. We hypothesize that riming and diffusional growth processes, including the Wegener–Bergeron–Findeisen (WBF) mechanism, are the main growth mechanisms involved in the observed MPCs. The impact of larger-scale meteorological conditions on the vertical profiles of MPC properties was also investigated. Large values of LWC and high concentration of smaller droplets are possibly linked to polluted situations and air mass origins from the south, which can lead to very low values of ice crystal size and IWC. On the contrary, clean situations with low temperatures exhibit larger values of ice crystal size and IWC. Several parameterizations relevant for remote sensing or modeling studies are also determined, such as IWC (and LWC) – extinction relationship, ice and liquid integrated water paths, ice concentration and liquid water fraction according to temperature.

Short summary
This paper is a study about the mixed-phase clouds frequently occurring in the Arctic region. It is based on airborne measurements and highlights the microphysical properties of these particular clouds composed of liquid droplets at cloud top and ice crystals below precipitating down to the surface. This work may help to improve the representation of the mixed-phase clouds in numerical prediction models as well as the retrieval of their properties from remote sensing observations.
Final-revised paper