The thermodynamic structure of summer Arctic stratocumulus and the dynamic coupling to the surface Journal Article uri icon



  • Abstract. The vertical structure of Arctic low-level clouds and Arctic boundary layer is studied, using observations from ASCOS (Arctic Summer Cloud Ocean Study), in the central Arctic, in late summer 2008. Two general types of cloud structures are examined: the "neutrally-stratified" and "stably-stratified" clouds. Neutrally-stratified are mixed-phase clouds where radiative-cooling near cloud top produces turbulence that creates a cloud-driven mixed layer. When this layer mixes with the surface-generated turbulence, the cloud layer is coupled to the surface, whereas when such an interaction does not occur, it remains decoupled; the latter state is most frequently observed. The decoupled clouds are usually higher compared to the coupled; differences in thickness or cloud water properties between the two cases are however not found. The surface fluxes are also very similar for both states. The decoupled clouds exhibit a bimodal thermodynamic structure, depending on the depth of the sub-cloud mixed layer (SML): clouds with shallower SMLs are disconnected from the surface by weak inversions, whereas those that lay over a deeper SML are associated with stronger inversions at the decoupling height. Neutrally-stratified clouds generally precipitate; the evaporation/sublimation of precipitation often enhances the decoupling state. Finally, stably-stratified clouds are usually lower, geometrically and optically thinner, non-precipitating liquid-water clouds, not containing enough liquid to drive efficient mixing through cloud-top cooling.;

publication date

  • February 11, 2014

has restriction

  • green

Date in CU Experts

  • June 3, 2021 10:01 AM

Full Author List

  • Sotiropoulou G; Sedlar J; Tjernstr√∂m M; Shupe MD; Brooks IM; Persson POG

author count

  • 6

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