Assessment of the dehydration-greenhouse feedback over the Arctic during February 1990

Authors

  • Eric Girard,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Quebec at Montreal, Montreal (Quebec), Canada
    • Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Quebec at Montreal, PO Box 8888, Station “Downtown”, Montreal, Quebec, H3C 3P8, Canada.
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  • Alexandru Stefanof

    1. Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Quebec at Montreal, Montreal (Quebec), Canada
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Abstract

The effect of pollution-derived sulfuric acid aerosols on the aerosol-cloud-radiation interactions is investigated over the Arctic for February 1990. Observations suggest that acidic aerosols can decrease the heterogeneous nucleation rate of ice crystals and lower the homogeneous freezing temperature of haze droplets. On the basis of these observations, we hypothesize that the cloud thermodynamic phase is modified in polluted air mass (Arctic haze). Cloud ice number concentration is reduced, thus promoting further ice crystal growth by the Bergeron–Findeisen process. Hence, ice crystals reach larger sizes and low-levkel ice crystal precipitation from mixed-phase clouds increases. Enhanced dehydration of the lower troposphere contributes to decreased water vapour greenhouse effect and cools the surface. A positive feedback is created between surface cooling and air dehydration, accelerating cold air production. This process is referred to as the dehydration-greenhouse feedback (DGF).

Simulations performed using an Arctic regional climate model for February 1990 are used to assess the potential effect of the DGF on the Arctic climate during February. Results show that the DGF has an important effect on cloud, atmospheric dehydration, and temperature over the Central and Eurasian Arctic, which is the coldest part of the Arctic. Cloud ice is significantly reduced and the total atmospheric water path is decreased by as much as 12%. This results in a surface cooling ranging between 0 and − 3 K. Moreover, the lower tropospheric cooling over the Eurasian and Central Arctic strengthens the atmospheric circulation at the upper level, thus increasing the aerosol transport from the mid-latitudes and enhancing the DGF. Over warmer areas, the increased aerosol concentration (caused by the DGF) leads to longer cloud lifetime, which contributes to warm these areas. Copyright © 2006 Royal Meteorological Society

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