3.6 Arctic cloud-driven mixed layers and surface coupling state

Monday, 29 April 2013: 3:00 PM
South Room (Renaissance Seattle Hotel)
Matthew Shupe, CIRES/Univ. of Colorado and NOAA/ESRL/PSD, Boulder, CO; and P. O. G. Persson and A. Solomon

Arctic low-level clouds interact with the underlying surface via many inter-related processes. The balance of cloud radiative warming and cooling effects imparts a strong control on the net surface energy budget. Cloud-driven atmospheric dynamics can impact surface turbulent heat fluxes and influence the vertical mixing of atmospheric state parameters and aerosols. Large-scale advection of heat and moisture provides the context within which these local interactions unfold. Importantly, these radiative, dynamical, and advective processes also contribute to a complex web of self-sustaining cloud processes that promote cloud maintenance over long periods of time. We examine many of these processes, with a specific focus on the dynamical linkages between clouds and the surface that influence low-level atmospheric structure and atmospheric mixing.

Comprehensive, ground-based observations from meteorological towers, remote-sensors, and radiosondes are used to simultaneously characterize surface fluxes, atmospheric structure, cloud properties, and the depth of the cloud-driven mixed layer in multiple Arctic environments. Relationships among these parameters are explored to elucidate the properties of the system that determine the degree of vertical atmospheric mixing and the coupling state between cloud and surface. The influence of temperature and moisture inversions on this system is also explored. Transitions in the coupling state are utilized to illustrate the relative roles of different processes.

Cases from a coastal Arctic site at Barrow, Alaska and a station embedded in the Arctic sea-ice pack are used to contrast conditional influences related to season and surface type. It is found that over sea-ice, where surface turbulent fluxes are generally weak, the coupling of cloud-level processes to the surface layer is largely due to proximity of the cloud-driven mixed layer to the surface, which appears to be primarily influenced by the larger-scale, advective environment. In contrast, when stronger surface turbulent fluxes are present, as a result of open ocean or land processes, surface-forced turbulence can also play a significant role in vertical atmospheric mixing and cloud maintenance.

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