Modelling micro- and macrophysical contributors to the dissipation of an Arctic mixed-phase cloud during the Arctic Summer Cloud Ocean Study (ASCOS)
Abstract. The Arctic climate is changing; temperature changes in the Arctic are greater than at midlatitudes, and changing atmospheric conditions influence Arctic mixed-phase clouds, which are important for the Arctic surface energy budget. These low-level clouds are frequently observed across the Arctic. They impact the turbulent and radiative heating of the open water, snow, and sea-ice-covered surfaces and influence the boundary layer structure. Therefore the processes that affect mixed-phase cloud life cycles are extremely important, yet relatively poorly understood. In this study, we present sensitivity studies using semi-idealized large eddy simulations (LESs) to identify processes contributing to the dissipation of Arctic mixed-phase clouds. We found that one potential main contributor to the dissipation of an observed Arctic mixed-phase cloud, during the Arctic Summer Cloud Ocean Study (ASCOS) field campaign, was a low cloud droplet number concentration (CDNC) of about 2 cm−3. Introducing a high ice crystal concentration of 10 L−1 also resulted in cloud dissipation, but such high ice crystal concentrations were deemed unlikely for the present case. Sensitivity studies simulating the advection of dry air above the boundary layer inversion, as well as a modest increase in ice crystal concentration of 1 L−1, did not lead to cloud dissipation. As a requirement for small droplet numbers, pristine aerosol conditions in the Arctic environment are therefore considered an important factor determining the lifetime of Arctic mixed-phase clouds.