Properties of Cirrus Clouds over the European Arctic (Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard)

Naukoudi K., Ritter C., Stachlewska I.S.

Remote Sensing

13(22), 2021, art. 4555, 10.3390/rs13224555

Cirrus is the only cloud type capable of inducing daytime cooling or heating at the top of the atmosphere (TOA) and the sign of its radiative effect highly depends on its optical depth. However, the investigation of its geometrical and optical properties over the Arctic is limited. In this work the long-term properties of cirrus clouds are explored for the first time over an Arctic site (Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard) using lidar and radiosonde measurements from 2011 to 2020. The optical properties were quality assured, taking into account the effects of specular reflections and multiple-scattering. Cirrus clouds were generally associated with colder and calmer wind conditions compared to the 2011–2020 climatology. However, the dependence of cirrus properties on temperature and wind speed was not strong. Even though the seasonal cycle was not pronounced, the winter-time cirrus appeared under lower temperatures and stronger wind conditions. Moreover, in winter, geometrically- and optically-thicker cirrus were found and their ice particles tended to be more spherical. The majority of cirrus was associated with westerly flow and westerly cirrus tended to be geometrically-thicker. Overall, optically-thinner layers tended to comprise smaller and less spherical ice crystals, most likely due to reduced water vapor deposition on the particle surface. Compared to lower latitudes, the cirrus layers over Ny-Ålesund were more absorbing in the visible spectral region and they consisted of more spherical ice particles.