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Tropical cirrus: From micro-scale processes to climate-scale impacts

Gasparini, Blaz and Sullivan, Sylvia and Sokol, Adam and Kärcher, Bernd and Jensen, Eric and Hartmann, Dennis (2023) Tropical cirrus: From micro-scale processes to climate-scale impacts. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP), pp. 15413-15444. Copernicus Publications. doi: 10.5194/acp-23-15413-2023. ISSN 1680-7316.

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Official URL: https://acp.copernicus.org/articles/23/15413/2023/


Tropical cirrus clouds, i.e., any type of ice cloud with tops above 400 hPa, play a critical role in the climate system and are a major source of uncertainty in our understanding of global warming. Tropical cirrus clouds involve processes spanning a wide range of spatial and temporal scales, from ice microphysics on cloud scales to mesoscale convective organization and planetary wave dynamics. This complexity makes tropical cirrus clouds notoriously difficult to model and has left many important questions stubbornly unanswered. At the same time, their multi-scale nature makes them well-positioned to benefit from the rise of global, high-resolution simulations of Earth’s atmosphere and a growing abundance of remotely sensed and in situ observations. Rapid progress on our understanding of tropical cirrus requires coordinated efforts to take advantage of these modern computational and observational abilities. In this opinion paper, we review recent progress in cirrus studies, highlight important unanswered questions, and discuss promising paths forward. Significant progress has been made in understanding the life cycle of convectively generated “anvil” cirrus and the response of their macrophysical properties to large-scale controls. On the other hand, much work remains to be don e to fully understand how small-scale anvil processes and the climatological anvil radiative effect will respond to global warming. Thin, in situ formed cirrus clouds are now known to be closely tied to the thermal structure and humidity of the tropical tropopause layer, but microphysical uncertainties prevent a full understanding of this link, as well as the precise amount of water vapor entering the stratosphere. Model representation of ice-nucleating particles, water vapor supersaturation, and ice depositional growth continue to pose great challenges to cirrus modeling. We believe that major advances in the understanding of tropical cirrus can be made through a combination of cross-tool synthesis and cross-scale studies conducted by cross-disciplinary research teams.

Item URL in elib:https://elib.dlr.de/201651/
Document Type:Article
Title:Tropical cirrus: From micro-scale processes to climate-scale impacts
AuthorsInstitution or Email of AuthorsAuthor's ORCID iDORCID Put Code
Gasparini, BlazUniversität Wien, Wien, AustriaUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Sullivan, SylviaUniversity of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, USAUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Sokol, AdamUniversity of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USAUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Kärcher, BerndDLR, IPAhttps://orcid.org/0000-0003-0278-4980UNSPECIFIED
Hartmann, DennisUniversity of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USAUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Date:December 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. 15413-15444
Publisher:Copernicus Publications
Keywords:cirrus clouds, climate
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 > Atmospheric Trace Species
Deposited By: Kärcher, Prof. Bernd
Deposited On:02 Jan 2024 09:46
Last Modified:02 Jan 2024 09:46

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