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Morrison H., G. de Boer, G. Feingold, J. Harrington, M. D. Shupe and K. Sulia (January 2012): Resilience of persistent Arctic mixed-phase clouds. Nature Geosci., 5, 11-17. doi:10.1038/NGEO1332

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The Arctic region is particularly sensitive to climate change. Mixed-phase clouds, comprising both ice and supercooled liquid water, have a large impact on radiative fluxes in the Arctic. These clouds occur frequently during all seasons in the region, where they often persist for many days at a time. This persistence is remarkable given the inherent instability of ice–liquid mixtures. In recent years it has emerged that feedbacks between numerous local processes, including the formation and growth of ice and cloud droplets, radiative cooling, turbulence, entrainment and surface fluxes of heat and moisture, interact to create a resilient mixed-phase cloud system. As well as the persistent mixed-phase cloud state there is another distinct Arctic state, characterized by radiatively clear conditions. The occurrence of either state seems to be related, in part, to large-scale environmental conditions. We suggest that shifts in the large-scale environment could alter the prevalence of mixed-phase clouds, potentially affecting surface radiative fluxes and the Arctic energy budget.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: PSD Publications
Divisions: Physical Sciences Division
DOI: 10.1038/NGEO1332