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The 5–6 December 1991 FIRE IFO II Jet Stream Cirrus Case Study: Possible Influences of Volcanic Aerosols

Kenneth SassenMeteorology Department, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah

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David O'C. StarrNASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland

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Gerald G. MaceMeteorology Department, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania

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Michael R. PoellotAtmospheric Sciences Department, University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, North Dakota

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S.H. MelfiNASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland

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Wynn L. EberhardNOAA Environmental Technology Laboratory, Boulder, Colorado

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James D. SpinhirneNASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland

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E.W. ElorantaMeteorology Department, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin

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Donald E. HagenPhysics Department, University of Missouri, Rolla, Missouri

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John HallettDesert Research Institute, Reno, Nevada

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Abstract

In presenting an overview of the cirrus clouds comprehensively studied by ground-based and airborne sensors from Coffeyville, Kansas, during the 5–6 December 1992 Project FIRE IFO II case study period, evidence is provided that volcanic aerosols from the June 1991 Pinatubo eruptions may have significantly influenced the formation and maintenance of the cirrus. Following the local appearance of a spur of stratospheric volcanic debris from the subtropics, a series of jet streaks subsequently conditioned the troposphere through tropopause foldings with sulfur-based particles that became effective cloud-forming nuclei in cirrus clouds. Aerosol and ozone measurements suggest a complicated history of stratospheric-tropospheric exchanges embedded within the upper-level flow, and cirrus cloud formation was noted to occur locally at the boundaries of stratospheric aerosol-enriched layers that became humidified through diffusion, precipitation, or advective processes. Apparent cirrus cloud alterations include abnormally high ice crystal concentrations (up to ∼600 L−1), complex radial ice crystal types, and relatively large haze particles in cirrus uncinus cell heads at temperatures between −40° and −50°C. Implications for volcanic-cirrus cloud climate effects and usual (nonvolcanic aerosol) jet stream cirrus cloud formation are discussed.

Abstract

In presenting an overview of the cirrus clouds comprehensively studied by ground-based and airborne sensors from Coffeyville, Kansas, during the 5–6 December 1992 Project FIRE IFO II case study period, evidence is provided that volcanic aerosols from the June 1991 Pinatubo eruptions may have significantly influenced the formation and maintenance of the cirrus. Following the local appearance of a spur of stratospheric volcanic debris from the subtropics, a series of jet streaks subsequently conditioned the troposphere through tropopause foldings with sulfur-based particles that became effective cloud-forming nuclei in cirrus clouds. Aerosol and ozone measurements suggest a complicated history of stratospheric-tropospheric exchanges embedded within the upper-level flow, and cirrus cloud formation was noted to occur locally at the boundaries of stratospheric aerosol-enriched layers that became humidified through diffusion, precipitation, or advective processes. Apparent cirrus cloud alterations include abnormally high ice crystal concentrations (up to ∼600 L−1), complex radial ice crystal types, and relatively large haze particles in cirrus uncinus cell heads at temperatures between −40° and −50°C. Implications for volcanic-cirrus cloud climate effects and usual (nonvolcanic aerosol) jet stream cirrus cloud formation are discussed.

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