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The Occurrence and Properties of Long-Lived Liquid-Bearing Clouds over the Greenland Ice Sheet and Their Relationship to the North Atlantic Oscillation


Stratiform liquid-bearing clouds (LBCs), defined herein as either pure liquid or mixed-phase clouds, have a large impact on the surface radiation budget across the Arctic. LBCs lasting at least 6 h are observed at Summit, Greenland, year-round with a maximum in occurrence during summer. Mean cloud-base height is below 1 km for 85% of LBC cases identified, 59% have mean liquid water path (LWP) values between 10 and 40 g m−2, and most produce sporadic light ice-phase precipitation. During their occurrence, the atmosphere above the ice sheet is anomalously warm and moist, with southerly winds observed over much of the ice sheet, including at Summit. LBCs that occur when the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) is in the negative phase correspond to strong ridging centered over the Greenland Ice Sheet (GIS), allowing for southwesterly flow over the GIS toward Summit. During the positive phase of the NAO, the occurrence of LBCs corresponds to a cyclone located off the southeastern coast of the ice sheet, which leads to easterly-to-southeasterly flow toward Summit. Furthermore, air parcels at Summit frequently originate from below the elevation of Summit, indicating that orographic lift along the ice sheet is a factor in the occurrence of LBCs at Summit. LBCs are more frequently observed during the negative NAO, and both the LWP and precipitation rate are larger in LBCs occurring during this phase. Mean LWP in LBCs occurring during the negative NAO is 15 g m−2 larger than in LBCs occurring during the positive phase.

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