The phase composition and microphysical structure of clouds define the manner in which they modulate atmospheric radiation and contribute to the hydrologic cycle. Issues regarding cloud phase partitioning and transformation come to bear directly in mixed-phase clouds, and have been difficult to address within current modeling frameworks. Ground-based, remote-sensing observations of mixed-phase clouds can contribute a significant body of knowledge with which to better understand, and thereby more accurately model, clouds and their phase-defining processes. Utilizing example observations from the Mixed-Phase Arctic Cloud Experiment (M-PACE), which occurred at the Department of Energy (DOE) Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Program's Climate Research Facility in Barrow, Alaska, during autumn 2004, we review the current status of ground-based observation and retrieval methods used in characterizing the macrophysical, microphysical, radiative, and dynamical properties of stratiform mixed-phase clouds. In general, cloud phase, boundaries, ice properties, liquid water path, optical depth, and vertical velocity are available from a combination of active and passive sensors. Significant deficiencies exist in our ability to vertically characterize the liquid phase, to distinguish ice crystal habits, and to understand aerosol-cloud interactions. Further validation studies are needed to evaluate, improve, and expand our retrieval abilities in mixed-phase clouds.

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Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Science, and NOAA/Earth Science Research Laboratory, Boulder, Colorado

NOAA/Earth Science Research Laboratory, Boulder, Colorado

University of Wisconsin—Madison, Madison, Wisconsin

Brookhaven National Laboratory, Upton, New York

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, Washington

Space Science and Engineering Center, University of Wisconsin—Madison, Madison, Wisconsin

The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania