Vertical motions in arctic mixed-phase stratiform clouds

Matthew D. Shupe, Pavlos Kollias, P. Ola G. Persson, Greg M. McFarquhar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The characteristics of Arctic mixed-phase stratiform clouds and their relation to vertical air motions are examined using ground-based observations during the Mixed-Phase Arctic Cloud Experiment (MPACE) in Barrow, Alaska, during fall 2004. The cloud macrophysical, microphysical, and dynamical properties are derived from a suite of active and passive remote sensors. Low-level, single-layer, mixed-phase stratiform clouds are typically topped by a 400-700-m-deep liquid water layer from which ice crystals precipitate. These clouds are strongly dominated (85% by mass) by liquid water. On average, an in-cloud updraft of 0.4 ms-1 sustains the clouds, although cloud-scale circulations lead to a variability of up to ±2 ms-1 from the average. Dominant scales-of-variability in both vertical air motions and cloud microphysical properties retrieved by this analysis occur at 0.5-10-km wavelengths. In updrafts, both cloud liquid and ice mass grow, although the net liquid mass growth is usually largest. Between updrafts, nearly all ice falls out and/or sublimates while the cloud liquid diminishes but does not completely evaporate. The persistence of liquid water throughout these cloud cycles suggests that ice-forming nuclei, and thus ice crystal, concentrations must be limited and that water vapor is plentiful. These details are brought together within the context of a conceptual model relating cloud-scale dynamics and microphysics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1304-1322
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of the Atmospheric Sciences
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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