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Impact of gravity waves on the motion and distribution of atmospheric ice...

Podglajen, A., R. Plougonven, A. Hertzog, and E. Jensen (2018), Impact of gravity waves on the motion and distribution of atmospheric ice particles, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 18, 10799-10823, doi:10.5194/acp-18-10799-2018.

Gravity waves are an ubiquitous feature of the atmosphere and influence clouds in multiple ways. Regarding cirrus clouds, many studies have emphasized the impact of wave-induced temperature fluctuations on the nucleation of ice crystals. This paper investigates the impact of the waves on the motion and distribution of ice particles, using the idealized 2-D framework of a monochromatic gravity wave. Contrary to previous studies, special attention is given to the impact of the wind field induced by the wave.

Assuming no feedback of the ice on the water vapor content, theoretical and numerical analyses both show the existence of a wave-driven localization of ice crystals, where some ice particles remain confined in a specific phase of the wave. The precise location where the confinement occurs depends on the background relative humidity, but it is always characterized by a relative humidity near saturation and a positive vertical wind anomaly. Hence, the wave has an impact on the mean motion of the crystals and may reduce dehydration in cirrus by slowing down the sedimentation of the ice particles. The results also provide a new insight into the relation between relative humidity and ice crystals’ presence.

The wave-driven localization is consistent with temperature–cirrus relationships recently observed in the tropical tropopause layer (TTL) over the Pacific during the Airborne Tropical Tropopause EXperiment (ATTREX). It is argued that this effect may explain such observations. Finally, the impact of the described interaction on TTL cirrus dehydration efficiency is quantified using ATTREX observations of clouds and temperature lapse rate.

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