Sensitivity of modeled arctic mixed-phase stratocumulus to cloud condensation and ice nuclei over regionally varying surface conditions

Hugh Morrison, James O. Pinto, Judith A. Curry, Greg M. McFarquhar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A two-moment microphysics scheme implemented in the polar version of the mesoscale model MM5 is used to simulate a mixed-phase stratocumulus deck observed during the Fall 2004 Mixed-Phase Arctic Cloud Experiment (MPACE). In situ aircraft instrumentation and remote sensors gathered extensive microphysical and radiative data that serve as a testbed for the model. Model results are reasonably similar to observations in terms of the liquid microphysical properties, while the ice microphysical properties are more significantly biased, especially the ice crystal concentration. Sensitivity tests examine the impact of increased cloud condensation and ice nucleus concentrations. Increasing the concentration of cloud condensation nuclei to values typical for polluted 'Arctic haze' conditions substantially reduces the mean droplet size, but has little impact on the downwelling longwave flux because the cloud already emits as a blackbody (except near the Arctic Ocean pack ice edge). However, the smaller droplet size does lead to a slight increase in liquid water path and more significant decrease (∼50%) in the ice water path and snowfall rate due to reduced collision-coalescence and riming of snow by droplets. Increasing the ice nucleus concentration specified from MPACE observations by 1-2 orders of magnitude produces a substantial reduction in liquid water path and downwelling longwave flux at the surface over interior northern Alaska, but has less impact over the open ocean and coastal regions. However, a large discrepancy between the observed ice nucleus and ice crystal concentrations, leading to the under-prediction of simulated crystal concentration, also suggests that additional ice initiation mechanisms (not included in current models) may have occurred in the real cloud layer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberD5203
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research Atmospheres
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 16 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Forestry
  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Palaeontology


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