Ice formation in Saharan dust over central Europe observed with temperature/humidity/aerosol Raman lidar

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Abstract

[1] Three gravity-wave-induced clouds and a glaciating altocumulus layer were continuously monitored with lidar at Leipzig, Germany, on 21 November 2003. The midtropospheric clouds formed in Saharan dust at heights from 3.5 km (−9°C) to 6.5 km (−27°C). Distinct ice formation in the altocumulus was triggered by the gravity wave. For the first time, an aerosol/cloud study presents height profiles of temperature, water vapor mixing ratio, relative humidity, dust, and cloud optical properties (volume extinction and backscatter coefficients, lidar ratio, depolarization ratio) within the same air column, solely derived from lidar data. The three gravity-wave-induced clouds did not show any sign of ice formation. The aged dust particles below 4.5-km height were probably partly coated and mixed with hygroscopic material and thus deactivated concerning ice nucleation. Ice crystals were generated in isolated air parcels at the cloud edges of a young, optically thin altocumulus layer between 5- and 6.5-km height. An aged altocumulus deck composed of a geometrically thin liquid water layer at cloud top and an extended ice crystal layer (ice virga) was observed 2 hours later in the same height range. Strong ice formation occurred in the altocumulus during the downdraft induced by the gravity wave. Contact freezing was probably the main reason for the observed ice formation on dust particles. Ice depolarization ratios were relatively low with values from 10 to 15% in the altocumulus and indicate plate-like crystals.

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