A Study Examining the Relationship Between Arctic Amplification and Cloud Cover Over Greenland

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Sunday, 4 January 2015
Kathryn Steinmann, Metropolitan State University of Denver, Denver, CO

A Study Examining Relationship Between Arctic Amplification and Cloud Cover Over Greenland Written By: Kathryn Steinmann

The purpose of this research is to look at the relationship between cloud cover over Greenland and Arctic Amplification. The role of cloud cover associated with climate change has yet to be determined. Studying the cloud cover over Greenland may give a clue to how clouds will effect the climate. Specifically, the cloud coverage over Greenland is important because the clouds could cause an increase in the amount of long wave radiation that is being reflected back to the surface. The increase in long wave radiation may contribute to an increase in temperatures and a decrease in the amount of sea ice. Arctic Amplification is the phenomenon of the Arctic region warming at a faster rate than the mid-latitudes. The increased warming of the Arctic is due to an increase in the amount of greenhouse gases, as well as some positive feedback mechanisms involving water vapor, sea ice, and snow. A possible relationship between the warming of the Arctic and Greenland cloud cover may be due to the fact that the Greenland Ice Sheet is decreasing in size. The melting of the sea ice allows for the ocean to absorb more solar radiation during the summer months, causing an increase in heat energy. This increase could allow for an increase in the amount of evaporation of the ocean water, leading to an increase in the amount of cloud cover over Greenland. In order to study this relationship the cloudiness and energy budget of Greenland will be analyzed. Incoming and outgoing long wave and short wave radiation, along with sea surface temperature data, will be used from NCEP/NCAR Reanalysis. Satellite data will also be employed. Satellite data over the Greenland Ice Sheet will be difficult to analyze for two reasons. The first is that some channels of data have a hard time distinguishing between clouds and snow/ice. Secondly, visible satellite data is only obtainable when daylight is present, which during the winter months is zero. I will use ceilometer data from the Summit Station in Greenland to determine cloud type. The timing of cloudy events will be correlated with sea surface temperatures in order to determine if a possible correlation exists between the two.