07 Feb 2023
 | 07 Feb 2023
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal ACP.

Airborne observations of the surface cloud radiative effect during different seasons over sea ice and open ocean in the Fram Strait

Sebastian Becker, André Ehrlich, Michael Schäfer, and Manfred Wendisch

Abstract. This study analyzes the surface cloud radiative effect (CRE) obtained during airborne observations of three campaigns in the Arctic north-west of Svalbard. The surface CRE quantifies the potential of clouds to modify the radiative energy budget of the surface and is calculated by combining broadband radiation measurements during low-level flight sections in mostly cloudy conditions with radiative transfer simulations of cloud-free conditions. The significance of surface albedo changes due to the presence of clouds is demonstrated and this effect is considered in the cloud-free simulations. The observations are discussed with respect to differences of the CRE between sea ice and open ocean surfaces, and between the seasonally different campaigns. The results indicate that the CRE depends on both cloud, illumination, surface, and thermodynamic properties. The solar and thermal-infrared (TIR) component of the CRE are analyzed separately and in combination. The inter-campaign differences of the solar CRE are dominated by the seasonal cycle of the solar zenith angle, with the largest cooling effect in summer. The lower surface albedo causes a larger solar cooling effect over open ocean than over sea ice, which amounts to −259 W m−2 (−108 W m−2) and −65 W m−2 (−17 W m−2), respectively, during summer (spring). Independent of campaign and surface type, the TIR CRE is only weakly variable and shows values around 75 W m−2. In total, clouds show a cooling effect over open ocean during all campaigns. In contrast, clouds over sea ice exert a warming effect to the surface, which neutralizes during mid-summer. Given the seasonal cycle of the sea ice distribution, these results imply that clouds in the Fram Strait region cool the surface during the sea ice minimum in late summer, while they warm the surface during the sea ice maximum in spring.

Sebastian Becker et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on acp-2022-849', Anonymous Referee #1, 28 Feb 2023
  • RC2: 'Comment on acp-2022-849', Anonymous Referee #2, 08 Mar 2023

Sebastian Becker et al.

Sebastian Becker et al.


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Short summary
This study analyzes the variability of the warming/cooling effect of clouds on the Arctic surface. Therefore, aircraft radiation measurements were performed over sea ice and open ocean during three seasonally different campaigns. It is found that clouds cool the open ocean surface, strongest in summer. Over sea ice, clouds warm the surface in spring, but have a neutral effect in summer. Due to the variable sea ice extent, clouds warm the surface during spring, but cool it during late summer.