3.4 Interactions between Arctic Clouds, Sea Ice, and Lower Tropospheric Stability: Influence on the Surface Energy Budget

Monday, 9 July 2018: 2:15 PM
Regency E/F (Hyatt Regency Vancouver)
Patrick C. Taylor, NASA, Hampton, VA

Arctic low clouds strongly affect the Arctic surface energy budget, and through this impact influence rest of the Arctic climate system: namely surface and atmospheric temperature, sea ice extent and thickness, and the atmospheric circulation. Arctic clouds are in turn influenced by the Arctic climate system creating the potential for cloud-climate feedbacks. We quantify the influence of atmospheric state on the surface cloud radiative effect (CRE) and the covariability between surface CRE and sea ice concentration (SIC) using instantaneous, active remote sensing satellite footprint data from the NASA A-Train. First, the results indicate significant differences in the surface CRE when stratified by atmospheric state. Second, a statistically insignificant covariability is found between CRE and SIC for most atmospheric regimes. Third, we find a statistically significant increase in the surface longwave CRE at with decreased SIC in fall. Specifically, a +3-5 W m‑2 larger longwave CRE is found over footprints with 0% versus 100% SIC. Because systematic changes of 1 W m‑2 are sufficient to explain the observed reductions in Arctic sea ice, our results (1) indicate a potentially significant amplifying sea ice-cloud feedback that could delay fall freeze-up influencing sea ice variability under certain atmospheric conditions and (2) suggest that a small change in the frequency of atmosphere states may yield a larger Arctic cloud feedback than any cloud response to sea ice.
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