Arctic stratus cloud properties and radiative forcing derived from ground-based data collected at Barrow, Alaska

Xiquan Dong, Gerald G. Mace

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Scopus citations


A record of single-layer and overcast low-level Arctic stratus cloud properties has been generated using data collected from May to September 2000 at the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) North Slope of Alaska (NSA) (71.3°N, 156.6°W) site near Barrow, Alaska. The record includes liquid-phase and liquid dominant mixed-phase Arctic stratus macrophysical, microphysical, and radiative properties, as well as surface radiation budget and cloud radiative forcing. The macrophysical properties consist of cloud fractions, cloud-base/top heights and temperatures, and cloud thickness derived from a ground-based radar and lidar pair, and rawinsonde sounding. The microphysical properties include cloud liquid water path and content, and cloud-droplet effective radius and number concentration obtained from microwave radiometer brightness temperature measurements, and the new cloud parameterization. The radiative properties contain cloud optical depth, effective solar transmission, and surface/cloud/top-of-atmosphere albedos derived from the new cloud parameterization and standard Epply precision spectral pyranometers. The shortwave, longwave, and net cloud radiative forcings at the surface are inferred from measurements by standard Epply precision spectral pyranometers and pyrgeometers. There are approximately 300 h and more than 3600 samples (5-min resolution) of single-layer and overcast low-level stratus during the study period. The 10-day averaged total and low-level cloud (Ztop < 3 km) fractions are 0.87 and 0.55, and low-level cloud-base and -top heights are around 0.4 and 0.8 km. The cloud-droplet effective radii and number concentrations in the spring are similar to midlatitude continental stratus cloud microphysical properties, and in the summer they are similar to midlatitude marine stratus clouds. The total cloud fractions in this study show good agreement with the satellite and surface results compiled from data collected during the First International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project (ISCCP) Regional Experiment (FIRE) Arctic Cloud Experiment (ACE) and the Surface Heat Budget of the Arctic Ocean (SHEBA) (∼77°N, 165°W) field experiments in 1998. The cloud microphysics derived from this study are similar, in general, to those collected in past field programs, although these comparisons are based on data collected at different locations and years. At the ARM NSA site, the summer cooling period is much longer (2-3 months vs 1-2 weeks), and the summer cooling magnitude is much larger (-100 W m-2 vs -5 W m-2) than at the SHEBA ship under the conditions of all skies at the SHEBA and overcast low-level stratus clouds at the NSA site.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)445-461
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Climate
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 1 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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