Mixed-phase stratus clouds are ubiquitous in the Arctic and play an important role in climate in this region. However, climate and regional models have generally proven unsuccessful at simulating Arctic cloudiness, particularly during the colder months. Specifically, models tend to underpredict the amount of liquid water in mixed-phase clouds. The Mixed-Phase Arctic Cloud Experiments (M-PACE), conducted from late September through October 2004 in the vicinity of the Department of Energy's Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) North Slope of Alaska field site, focused on characterizing low-level Arctic stratus clouds. Ice nuclei (IN) measurements were made using a continuous-flow ice thermal diffusion chamber aboard the University of North Dakota's Citation II aircraft. These measurements indicated IN concentrations that were significantly lower than those used in many models. Using the Regional Atmospheric Modeling System (RAMS), we show that these low IN concentrations, as well as inadequate parameterizations of the depletion of IN through nucleation scavenging, may be partially responsible for the poor model predictions. Moreover, we show that this can lead to errors in the modeled surface radiative energy budget of 10–100 Wm2. Finally, using the measured IN concentrations as input to RAMS and comparing to a mixed-phase cloud observed during M-PACE, we show excellent agreement between modeled and observed liquid water content and net infrared surface flux.

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Department of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado

Department of Meteorology, The Pennsylvania State University, State College, Pennsylvania

Department of Meteorology, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, Washington

Alaska Experimental Forecast Facility, University of Alaska, Anchorage, Alaska