2.3 Improve understanding of the processes that control the formation, longevity, precipitation, and physical properties of Arctic clouds; the spatio-temporal distributions of aerosol types; and Arctic cloud and aerosol modulation of the surface radiation budget.

Arctic clouds are governed by complex interactions between local- and large-scale processes that involve dynamics, moisture supply, and aerosol influences on nucleation. Aerosol populations follow a distinct seasonal pattern in the Arctic, but with spatio-temporal variability, that is not adequately characterized. Each of these variables is influenced by the location (e.g., along a particular transport pathway) and surface cover (e.g., open leads in sea ice) over which clouds form and where aerosols are produced or removed from the atmosphere. Of particular interest, due to the associated radiative forcing potential, is the opportunity to understand and represent the controls on cloud phase, which feed back onto cloud longevity, radiative properties, precipitation, and the horizontal and vertical distribution of different aerosol types across the Arctic.

Performance elements from the Arctic research plan

  • 2.3.1 Support and synthesize multi-platform observations of cloud and aerosol properties from surface, airborne, and space-borne instruments (integrated with models as appropriate) to describe the physical and radiative characteristics of cloud and aerosol over a range of spatio-temporal scales and over a range of Arctic land cover domains.
  • 2.3.2 Support integrated observational and modeling studies of atmospheric processes and their relationship to land cover that will increase understanding of the characteristics, evolution, and radiative properties of Arctic clouds and their interactions with aerosol, leading to advancement in representing clouds in models at many scales.
  • 2.3.3 Understand the impacts of Arctic and Boreal Forest wildfires on emissions, distributions, weather, and climate impacts of biomass burning plumes through improved use of emissions databases and chemical transport modeling. Gain better understanding of deposition processes through studies and better characterization of the spatial distribution of biomass burning aerosol..
  • 2.3.4 In collaboration with efforts described under the Environmental Intelligence Goal, support evaluation of reanalyses and their ability to represent Arctic clouds and controlling parameters with fidelity using satellite, aircraft, and ground-based observations.

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