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Characteristic Atmospheric Radiative Heating Rate Profiles in Arctic Clouds as Observed at Barrow, Alaska


A two-year cloud microphysical property dataset derived from ground-based remote sensors at the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement site near Barrow, Alaska was used as input into a radiative transfer model to compute radiative heating rate (RHR) profiles in the atmosphere. Both the longwave (LW, 5-100 μm) and shortwave (SW, 0.2-5 μm) RHR profiles show significant month-to-month variability due the seasonal dependence in the vertical profiles of cloud liquid and ice water contents, with additional contributions from the seasonal dependencies of solar zenith angle, water vapor amount, and temperature.

The LW and SW RHR profiles were binned to provide characteristic profiles as a function of cloud type and liquid water path (LWP). Single-layer liquid-only clouds are shown to have larger (10 to 30 K day-1) LW radiative cooling rates at the top of the cloud layer than single-layer mixed-phase clouds; this is due primarily to differences in the vertical distribution of liquid water between the two classes. However, differences in SW RHR profiles at the top of these two classes of clouds are less than 3 K day-1. The absolute value of the RHR in single-layer ice-only clouds is an order of magnitude smaller than in liquid-bearing clouds. Furthermore, for double-layer cloud systems the phase and condensed water path of the upper cloud strongly modulates the radiative cooling both at the top and within the lower level cloud. While sensitivity to cloud overlap and phase has been shown previously, the characteristic RHR profiles are markedly different between the different cloud classifications.

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