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Differences in microphysical properties of cirrus at high and mid-latitudes

de la Torre Castro, Elena and Jurkat-Witschas, Tina and Afchine, Armin and Grewe, Volker and Hahn, Valerian and Kirschler, Simon and Krämer, Martina and Lucke, Johannes and Spelten, Nicole and Wernli, Heini and Zöger, Martin and Voigt, Christiane (2023) Differences in microphysical properties of cirrus at high and mid-latitudes. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP) (23), pp. 13167-13189. Copernicus Publications. doi: 10.5194/acp-23-13167-2023. ISSN 1680-7316.

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Official URL: https://acp.copernicus.org/articles/23/13167/2023/


Despite their proven importance for the atmospheric radiative energy budget, the effect of cirrus on climate and the magnitude of their modification by human activity is not well quantified. Besides anthropogenic pollution sources on the ground, aviation has a large local effect on cirrus microphysical and radiative properties via the formation of contrails and their transition to contrail cirrus. To investigate the anthropogenic influence on natural cirrus, we compare the microphysical properties of cirrus measured at mid-latitude (ML) regions (<60∘ N) that are often affected by aviation and pollution with cirrus measured in the same season in comparatively pristine high latitudes (HLs; ≥60∘ N). The number concentration, effective diameter, and ice water content of the observed cirrus are derived from in situ measurements covering ice crystal sizes between 2 and 6400 µm collected during the CIRRUS-HL campaign (Cirrus in High Latitudes) in June and July 2021. We analyse the dependence of cirrus microphysical properties on altitude and latitude and demonstrate that the median ice number concentration is an order of magnitude larger in the measured mid-latitude cirrus, with 0.0086 cm−3, compared to the high-latitude cirrus, with 0.001 cm−3. Ice crystals in mid-latitude cirrus are on average smaller than in high-latitude cirrus, with a median effective diameter of 165 µm compared to 210 µm, and the median ice water content in mid-latitude cirrus is higher (0.0033 g m−3) than in high-latitude cirrus (0.0019 g m−3). In order to investigate the cirrus properties in relation to the region of formation, we combine the airborne observations with 10 d backward trajectories to identify the location of cirrus formation and the cirrus type, i.e. in situ or liquid origin cirrus, depending on whether there is only ice or also liquid water present in the cirrus history, respectively. The cirrus formed and measured at mid-latitudes (M–M) have a particularly high ice number concentration and low effective diameter. This is very likely a signature of contrails and contrail cirrus, which is often observed in the in situ origin cirrus type. In contrast, the largest effective diameter and lowest number concentration were found in the cirrus formed and measured at high latitudes (H–H) along with the highest relative humidity over ice (RHi). On average, in-cloud RHi was above saturation in all cirrus. While most of the H–H cirrus were of an in situ origin, the cirrus formed at mid-latitudes and measured at high latitudes (M–H) were mainly of liquid origin. A pristine Arctic background atmosphere with relatively low ice nuclei availability and the extended growth of few nucleated ice crystals may explain the observed RHi and size distributions. The M–H cirrus are a mixture of the properties of M–M and H–H cirrus (preserving some of the initial properties acquired at mid-latitudes and transforming under Arctic atmospheric conditions). Our analyses indicate that part of the cirrus found at high latitudes is actually formed at mid-latitudes and therefore affected by mid-latitude air masses, which have a greater anthropogenic influence.

Item URL in elib:https://elib.dlr.de/198294/
Document Type:Article
Title:Differences in microphysical properties of cirrus at high and mid-latitudes
AuthorsInstitution or Email of AuthorsAuthor's ORCID iDORCID Put Code
Afchine, ArminFZ Jülich, Jülich, GermanyUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Grewe, VolkerDLR, IPAhttps://orcid.org/0000-0002-8012-6783UNSPECIFIED
Kirschler, SimonDLR, IPAhttps://orcid.org/0000-0003-4232-8277144810023
Krämer, MartinaFZ Jülich, Jülich, GermanyUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Lucke, JohannesDLR, IPAhttps://orcid.org/0000-0001-6724-864X144810026
Voigt, ChristianeDLR, IPAhttps://orcid.org/0000-0001-8925-7731UNSPECIFIED
Date:18 October 2023
Journal or Publication Title:Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP)
Refereed publication:Yes
Open Access:Yes
Gold Open Access:Yes
In ISI Web of Science:Yes
Page Range:pp. 13167-13189
Publisher:Copernicus Publications
Series Name:Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics
Keywords:Cirrus, microphysical properties, in-situ measurements
HGF - Research field:Aeronautics, Space and Transport
HGF - Program:Space
HGF - Program Themes:Earth Observation
DLR - Research area:Raumfahrt
DLR - Program:R EO - Earth Observation
DLR - Research theme (Project):R - Atmospheric and climate research
Location: Oberpfaffenhofen
Institutes and Institutions:Institute of Atmospheric Physics > Cloud Physics
Institute of Atmospheric Physics > Earth System Modelling
Flight Experiments > Oberpfaffenhofen
Deposited By: Keur, Natalie Desiree
Deposited On:19 Oct 2023 11:32
Last Modified:24 Oct 2023 10:10

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