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Ice cloud microphysical trends observed by the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder

Kahn, B., H. Takahashi, G. L. Stephens, Q. Yue, J. Delanoë, G. Manipon, E. M. Manning, and A. J. Heymsfield (2018), Ice cloud microphysical trends observed by the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 18, 10715-10739, doi:10.5194/acp-18-10715-2018.

We use the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) version 6 ice cloud property and thermodynamic phase retrievals to quantify variability and 14-year trends in ice cloud frequency, ice cloud top temperature (Tci ), ice optical thickness (τi ) and ice effective radius (rei ). The trends in ice cloud properties are shown to be independent of trends in information content and χ 2 . Statistically significant decreases in ice frequency, τi , and ice water path (IWP) are found in the SH and NH extratropics, but trends are of much smaller magnitude and statistically insignificant in the tropics. However, statistically significant increases in rei are found in all three latitude bands. Perturbation experiments consistent with estimates of AIRS radiometric stability fall significantly short of explaining the observed trends in ice properties, averaging kernels, and χ 2 trends. Values of rei are larger at the tops of opaque clouds and exhibit dependence on surface wind speed, column water vapour (CWV) and surface temperature (Tsfc ) with changes up to 4–5 µm but are only 1.9 % of all ice clouds. Non-opaque clouds exhibit a much smaller change in rei with respect to CWV and Tsfc . Comparisons between DARDAR and AIRS suggest that rei is smallest for singlelayer cirrus, larger for cirrus above weak convection, and largest for cirrus above strong convection at the same cloud top temperature. This behaviour is consistent with enhanced particle growth from radiative cooling above convection or large particle lofting from strong convection.

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