Constraining ice water content of thin Antarctic cirrus clouds using ground-based lidar and satellite data

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  • 1 Australian Antarctic Division, Kingston, Tasmania, Australia, and Australian Antarctic Programme Partnership, Institute for Marine and Antarctic Science, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
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Abstract

We combine observations of optically-thin cirrus clouds made by lidar at Davis, Antarctica (69°S, 78°E) during 14 – 15 June 2011 with a microphysical retrieval algorithm to constrain the ice water content (IWC) of these clouds. The cirrus were embedded in a tropopause jet which flowed around a ridge of high pressure extending southwards over Davis from the Southern Ocean. Cloud optical depths were (0.082±0.001) and sub-visual cirrus were present during 11% of the observation period. The macrophysical cirrus cloud properties obtained during this case study are consistent with those previously reported at lower latitudes. MODIS satellite imagery and AIRS surface temperature data are used as inputs into a radiative transfer model in order to constrain the IWC and ice water path of the cirrus. The derived cloud IWC is consistent with in-situ observations made at other locations but at similarly cold temperatures. The optical depths derived from the model agree with those calculated directly from the lidar data. This study demonstrates the value of a combination of ground-based lidar observations and a radiative transfer model in constraining microphysical cloud parameters which could be utilised at locations where other lidar measurements are made.

Corresponding author: Simon Alexander simon.alexander@aad.gov.au

Abstract

We combine observations of optically-thin cirrus clouds made by lidar at Davis, Antarctica (69°S, 78°E) during 14 – 15 June 2011 with a microphysical retrieval algorithm to constrain the ice water content (IWC) of these clouds. The cirrus were embedded in a tropopause jet which flowed around a ridge of high pressure extending southwards over Davis from the Southern Ocean. Cloud optical depths were (0.082±0.001) and sub-visual cirrus were present during 11% of the observation period. The macrophysical cirrus cloud properties obtained during this case study are consistent with those previously reported at lower latitudes. MODIS satellite imagery and AIRS surface temperature data are used as inputs into a radiative transfer model in order to constrain the IWC and ice water path of the cirrus. The derived cloud IWC is consistent with in-situ observations made at other locations but at similarly cold temperatures. The optical depths derived from the model agree with those calculated directly from the lidar data. This study demonstrates the value of a combination of ground-based lidar observations and a radiative transfer model in constraining microphysical cloud parameters which could be utilised at locations where other lidar measurements are made.

Corresponding author: Simon Alexander simon.alexander@aad.gov.au
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