Current efforts focus on understanding processes controlling the formation, lifecycle, and climatic influence of Arctic clouds. Clouds play important roles in the climate system, including the modulation of atmospheric radiation and the distribution of precipitation. Specific topics currently being investigated include:
- Use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems in Measuring High-Latitude Atmospheres: Polar atmospheres represent one of the most challenging environments in which to make atmospheric measurements. Manned flights can be expensive and dangerous. Together with collaborators at the University of Colorado and the US Department of Energy, we are exploring the potential for small (micro-scale) UAS to obtain some of these measurments, including profiling of basic meteorology (temperature, humidity, winds), aerosol properties, cloud properties, radiation and deriving estimates of the surface energy budget. One of our primary Arctic deployment sites is the Oliktok Point, Alaska facility operated by the Department of Energy. Recently, we particpated in the COALA campaign there, and will head back in the Spring of 2015 for the ERASMUS campaign.
- Aerosol-Cloud Interactions in Arctic Clouds: Cloud radiative forcing and precipitation characteristics are influenced by the particles upon which cloud hydrometeors form. Changes to precipitation rates, cloud lifetime, and cloud thickness can all result from changes to aerosol properties. Using a variety of observational and modeling tools, we are improving our understanding of the physical processes responsible for these interactions, as well as the resulting impact on the influence of clouds on the climate system.
- The Role of Various Processes in Arctic Cloud Formation and Lifecycle: Arctic clouds form as a result of a complex web of interacting physical processes, including those related to synoptic scale transport of water and heat, surface fluxes of these quantities, cloud-driven radiation, cloud microphysics, and aerosol properties. Our research involves establishing which of these processes are most important while simultaneously improving our understanding of individual components. This knowledge is crucial for improvement of weather and climate model simulations at high latitudes.
Currently Funded Projects
"Development and Evaluation of Low Cost, Unmanned Aircraft-Based Turbulent Flux Measurement Techniques" (CIRES, de Boer PI)
"Evaluation of Routine Atmospheric Sounding Measurements using Unmanned Systems" (DOE ARM, de Boer PI)
"Evaluation of Routine Atmospheric Sounding Measurements using Unmanned Systems" (DOE ASR, de Boer PI)
"A Multi-Faceted Evaluation of Aerosol Impacts on Arctic Clouds" (NSF, de Boer PI)
"Evaluating Aerosol Indirect Effects in Mixed-Phase Clouds" (DOE ASR, de Boer PI)