ICESat-2 shows sea ice leads have little overall effects on the Arctic cloudiness in cold months

Zheng Liu 1Polar Science Center, Applied Physics Laboratory, University of Washington, Seattle, WA

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Axel Schweiger 1Polar Science Center, Applied Physics Laboratory, University of Washington, Seattle, WA

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Abstract

The effect of leads in Arctic sea ice on clouds is a potentially important climate feedback. We use observations of clouds and leads from the Ice, Cloud, and Land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2) to study the effects of leads on clouds. Both leads and clouds are strongly forced by synoptic weather conditions, with more clouds over both leads and sea ice at lower sea level pressure. Contrary to previous studies, we find the overall lead effect on low-level cloud cover is −0.02, a weak cloud dissipating effect in cold months, after the synoptic forcing influence is removed. This is due to compensating contributions from the cloud dissipating effect by newly frozen leads under high pressure systems and the cloud enhancing effect by newly open leads under low pressure system. The lack of proper representation of lead effect on clouds in current climate models and reanalyses may impact their performance in winter months, such as in sea ice growth and Arctic cyclone development.

© 2024 American Meteorological Society. This is an Author Accepted Manuscript distributed under the terms of the default AMS reuse license. For information regarding reuse and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Zheng Liu (liuzheng@apl.uw.edu)

Abstract

The effect of leads in Arctic sea ice on clouds is a potentially important climate feedback. We use observations of clouds and leads from the Ice, Cloud, and Land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2) to study the effects of leads on clouds. Both leads and clouds are strongly forced by synoptic weather conditions, with more clouds over both leads and sea ice at lower sea level pressure. Contrary to previous studies, we find the overall lead effect on low-level cloud cover is −0.02, a weak cloud dissipating effect in cold months, after the synoptic forcing influence is removed. This is due to compensating contributions from the cloud dissipating effect by newly frozen leads under high pressure systems and the cloud enhancing effect by newly open leads under low pressure system. The lack of proper representation of lead effect on clouds in current climate models and reanalyses may impact their performance in winter months, such as in sea ice growth and Arctic cyclone development.

© 2024 American Meteorological Society. This is an Author Accepted Manuscript distributed under the terms of the default AMS reuse license. For information regarding reuse and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Zheng Liu (liuzheng@apl.uw.edu)
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