Disclaimer: This material is being kept online for historical purposes. Though accurate at the time of publication, it is no longer being updated. The page may contain broken links or outdated information, and parts may not function in current web browsers. Visit https://espo.nasa.gov for information about our current projects.


Impact of large-scale dynamics on the microphysical properties of midlatitude...

Muhlbauer, A., T. P. Ackerman, J. M. Comstock, G. S. Diskin, S. M. Evans, R. P. Lawson, and R. Marchand (2014), Impact of large-scale dynamics on the microphysical properties of midlatitude cirrus, J. Geophys. Res., 119, 3976-3996, doi:10.1002/2013JD020035.

In situ microphysical observations of midlatitude cirrus collected during the Department of Energy Small Particles in Cirrus (SPARTICUS) field campaign are combined with an atmospheric state classification for the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Southern Great Plains (SGP) site to understand statistical relationships between cirrus microphysics and the large-scale meteorology. The atmospheric state classification is informed about the large-scale meteorology and state of cloudiness at the ARM SGP site by combining ECMWF ERA-Interim reanalysis data with 14 years of continuous observations from the millimeter-wavelength cloud radar. Almost half of the cirrus cloud occurrences in the vicinity of the ARM SGP site during SPARTICUS can be explained by three distinct synoptic conditions, namely, upper level ridges, midlatitude cyclones with frontal systems, and subtropical flows. Probability density functions (PDFs) of cirrus microphysical properties such as particle size distributions (PSDs), ice number concentrations, and ice water content (IWC) are examined and exhibit striking differences among the different synoptic regimes. Generally, narrower PSDs with lower IWC but higher ice number concentrations are found in cirrus sampled in upper level ridges, whereas cirrus sampled in subtropical flows, fronts, and aged anvils show broader PSDs with considerably lower ice number concentrations but higher IWC. Despite striking contrasts in the cirrus microphysics for different large-scale environments, the PDFs of vertical velocity are not different, suggesting that vertical velocity PDFs are a poor predictor for explaining the microphysical variability in cirrus. Instead, cirrus microphysical contrasts may be driven by differences in ice supersaturations or aerosols.

PDF of Publication: 
Download from publisher's website.