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  • Author or Editor: Nathaniel B. Miller x
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Matthew D. Shupe, David D. Turner, Von P. Walden, Ralf Bennartz, Maria P. Cadeddu, Benjamin B. Castellani, Christopher J. Cox, David R. Hudak, Mark S. Kulie, Nathaniel B. Miller, Ryan R. Neely III, William D. Neff, and Penny M. Rowe

Cloud and atmospheric properties strongly influence the mass and energy budgets of the Greenland Ice Sheet (GIS). To address critical gaps in the understanding of these systems, a new suite of cloud- and atmosphere-observing instruments has been installed on the central GIS as part of the Integrated Characterization of Energy, Clouds, Atmospheric State, and Precipitation at Summit (ICECAPS) project. During the first 20 months in operation, this complementary suite of active and passive ground-based sensors and radiosondes has provided new and unique perspectives on important cloud–atmosphere properties.

High atop the GIS, the atmosphere is extremely dry and cold with strong near-surface static stability predominating throughout the year, particularly in winter. This low-level thermodynamic structure, coupled with frequent moisture inversions, conveys the importance of advection for local cloud and precipitation formation. Cloud liquid water is observed in all months of the year, even the particularly cold and dry winter, while annual cycle observations indicate that the largest atmospheric moisture amounts, cloud water contents, and snowfall occur in summer and under southwesterly flow. Many of the basic structural properties of clouds observed at Summit, Greenland, particularly for low-level stratiform clouds, are similar to their counterparts in other Arctic regions.

The ICECAPS observations and accompanying analyses will be used to improve the understanding of key cloud–atmosphere processes and the manner in which they interact with the GIS. Furthermore, they will facilitate model evaluation and development in this data-sparse but environmentally unique region.

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Tristan S. L’Ecuyer, Brian J. Drouin, James Anheuser, Meredith Grames, David S. Henderson, Xianglei Huang, Brian H. Kahn, Jennifer E. Kay, Boon H. Lim, Marian Mateling, Aronne Merrelli, Nathaniel B. Miller, Sharmila Padmanabhan, Colten Peterson, Nicole-Jeanne Schlegel, Mary L. White, and Yan Xie

Abstract

Earth’s climate is strongly influenced by energy deficits at the poles that emit more thermal energy than they receive from the sun. Energy exchanges between the surface and atmosphere influence the local environment while heat transport from lower latitudes drives midlatitude atmospheric and oceanic circulations. In the Arctic, in particular, local energy imbalances induce strong seasonality in surface–atmosphere heat exchanges and an acute sensitivity to forced climate variations. Despite these important local and global influences, the largest contributions to the polar atmospheric and surface energy budgets have not been fully characterized. The spectral variation of far-infrared radiation that makes up 60% of polar thermal emission has never been systematically measured impeding progress toward consensus in predicted rates of Arctic warming, sea ice decline, and ice sheet melt. Enabled by recent advances in sensor miniaturization and CubeSat technology, the Polar Radiant Energy in the Far Infrared Experiment (PREFIRE) mission will document, for the first time, the spectral, spatial, and temporal variations of polar far-infrared emission. Selected under NASA’s Earth Ventures Instrument (EVI) program, PREFIRE will utilize new lightweight, low-power, ambient temperature detectors capable of measuring at wavelengths up to 50 μm to quantify Earth’s far-infrared spectrum. Estimates of spectral surface emissivity, water vapor, cloud properties, and the atmospheric greenhouse effect derived from these measurements offer the potential to advance our understanding of the factors that modulate thermal fluxes in the cold, dry conditions characteristic of the polar regions.

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