The observed influence of local anthropogenic pollution on northern Alaskan cloud properties Journal Article uri icon



  • Abstract. Due to their importance for the radiation budget, liquid-containing clouds are a key component of the Arctic climate system. Depending on season, they can cool or warm the near-surface air. The radiative properties of these clouds depend strongly on cloud drop sizes, which are governed by the availability of cloud condensation nuclei. Here, we investigate how cloud drop sizes are modified in the presence of local emissions from industrial facilities at the North Slope of Alaska. For this, we use aircraft in-situ observations of clouds and aerosols from the 5th Department of Energy Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (DOE ARM) Program’s Airborne Carbon Measurements (ACME-V) campaign obtained in Summer 2015. Comparison of observations from an area with petroleum extraction facilities (Oliktok Point) with data from a reference area relatively free of anthropogenic sources (Utqiaġvik/Barrow) represents an opportunity to quantify the impact of local industrial emissions on cloud properties. In the presence of local industrial emissions, the mean effective radii of cloud droplets are reduced from 12.2 to 9.8 μm, which leads to a suppression of drizzle production and precipitation. At the same time, concentrations of refractory black carbon and condensation nuclei are enhanced below the clouds. These results demonstrate that the effects of anthropogenic pollution on local climate need to be considered when planning Arctic industrial infrastructure in a warming environment.;

publication date

  • May 16, 2017

has restriction

  • green

Date in CU Experts

  • January 6, 2021 11:05 AM

Full Author List

  • Maahn M; de Boer G; Creamean JM; Feingold G; McFarquhar GM; Wu W; Mei F

author count

  • 7

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