Factors influencing the microphysics and radiative properties of liquid-dominated Arctic clouds: Insight from observations of aerosol and clouds during ISDAC



[1] Aircraft measurements during the Indirect and Semi-Direct Aerosol Campaign (ISDAC) in April 2008 are used to investigate factors influencing the microphysics and radiative properties of springtime Arctic clouds. The analysis is focused on low-level, liquid-dominated clouds in two separate regimes with respect to cloud and aerosol properties: single-layer stratocumulus with below-cloud aerosol concentrations (Na) less than 250 cm−3 (clean cases); and layered stratocumulus with Na > 500 cm−3 below cloud base, associated with a biomass burning aerosol (polluted cases). For each regime, vertical profiles through cloud are used to determine cloud microphysical and radiative properties. The polluted cases were correlated with warmer, geometrically thicker clouds, with higher droplet number concentrations (Nd), liquid water paths (LWP), optical depths (τ), and albedo (A) relative to clean cases. The mean cloud droplet effective radii (reff), however, were similar (5.7 μm) for both aerosol-cloud regimes. This discrepancy resulted mainly from the higher LWP of clouds in polluted cases, which can be explained by both meteorological (temperature, dynamics) and microphysical (precipitation inhibition) factors. Adiabatic parcel model simulations demonstrate that differences in droplet activation between the aerosol-cloud regimes may play a role, as the higher Na in polluted cases limits activation to larger and/or more hygroscopic particles. The observations and analysis presented here demonstrate the complex interactions among environmental conditions, aerosol, and the microphysics and radiative properties of Arctic clouds.