Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres

Saharan dust and heterogeneous ice formation: Eleven years of cloud observations at a central European EARLINET site

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Abstract

[1] More than 2300 observed cloud layers were analyzed to investigate the impact of aged Saharan dust on heterogeneous ice formation. The observations were performed with a polarization/Raman lidar at the European Aerosol Research Lidar Network site of Leipzig, Germany (51.3°N, 12.4°E) from February 1997 to June 2008. The statistical analysis is based on lidar-derived information on cloud phase (liquid water, mixed phase, ice cloud) and cloud top height, cloud top temperature, and vertical profiles of dust mass concentration calculated with the Dust Regional Atmospheric Modeling system. Compared to dust-free air masses, a significantly higher amount of ice-containing clouds (25%–30% more) was observed for cloud top temperatures from −10°C to −20°C in air masses that contained mineral dust. The midlatitude lidar study is compared with our SAMUM lidar study of tropical stratiform clouds at Cape Verde in the winter of 2008. The comparison reveals that heterogeneous ice formation is much stronger over central Europe and starts at higher temperatures than over the tropical station. Possible reasons for the large difference are discussed.

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