Arctic stratus cloud properties and their effect on the surface radiation budget: Selected cases from FIRE ACE

Xiquan Dong, Gerald G. Mace, Patrick Minnis, David F. Young

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23 Scopus citations


To study Arctic stratus cloud properties and their effect on the surface radiation balance during the spring transition season, analyses are performed using data taken during three cloud and two clear days in May 1998 as part of the First ISCCP Regional Experiment (FIRE) Arctic Cloud Experiment (ACE). Radiative transfer models are used in conjunction with surface- and satellite-based measurements to retrieve the layer-averaged microphysical and shortwave radiative properties. The surface-retrieved cloud properties in Cases 1 and 2 agree well with the in situ and satellite retrievals. Discrepancies in Case 3 are due to spatial mismatches between the aircraft and the surface measurements in a highly variable cloud field. Also, the vertical structure in the cloud layer is not fully characterized by the aircraft measurements. Satellite data are critical for understanding some of the observed discrepancies. The satellite-derived particle sizes agree well with the coincident surface retrievals and with the aircraft data when they were collocated. Optical depths derived from visible-channel data over snow backgrounds were overestimated in all three cases, suggesting that methods currently used in satellite cloud climatologies derive optical depths that are too large. Use of a near-infrared channel with a solar infrared channel to simultaneously derive optical depth and particle size appears to alleviate this overestimation problem. Further study of the optical depth retrieval is needed. The surface-based radiometer data reveal that the Arctic stratus clouds produce a net warming of 20 W m-2 in the surface layer during the transition season suggesting that these clouds may accelerate the spring time melting of the ice pack. This surface warming contrasts with the net cooling at the top of the atmosphere (TOA) during the same period. An analysis of the complete FIRE ACE data sets will be valuable for understanding the role of clouds during the entire melting and refreezing process that occurs annually in the Arctic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2000JD900404
Pages (from-to)15297-15312
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research Atmospheres
Issue numberD14
StatePublished - Jul 27 2001

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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