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Scott, RC, Nicolas JP, Bromwich DH, Norris JR, Lubin D.  2019.  Meteorological drivers and large-scale climate forcing of West Antarctic Surface Melt. Journal of Climate. 32:665-684.   10.1175/jcli-d-18-0233.1   AbstractWebsite

Understanding the drivers of surface melting in West Antarctica is crucial for understanding future ice loss and global sea level rise. This study identifies atmospheric drivers of surface melt on West Antarctic ice shelves and ice sheet margins and relationships with tropical Pacific and high-latitude climate forcing using multidecadal reanalysis and satellite datasets. Physical drivers of ice melt are diagnosed by comparing satellite-observed melt patterns to anomalies of reanalysis near-surface air temperature, winds, and satellite-derived cloud cover, radiative fluxes, and sea ice concentration based on an Antarctic summer synoptic climatology spanning 1979-2017. Summer warming in West Antarctica is favored by Amundsen Sea (AS) blocking activity and a negative phase of the southern annular mode (SAM), which both correlate with El Nino conditions in the tropical Pacific Ocean. Extensive melt events on the Ross-Amundsen sector of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) are linked to persistent, intense AS blocking anticyclones, which force intrusions of marine air over the ice sheet. Surface melting is primarily driven by enhanced downwelling longwave radiation from clouds and a warm, moist atmosphere and by turbulent mixing of sensible heat to the surface by fohn winds. Since the late 1990s, concurrent with ocean-driven WAIS mass loss, summer surface melt occurrence has increased from the Amundsen Sea Embayment to the eastern Ross Ice Shelf. We link this change to increasing anticyclonic advection of marine air into West Antarctica, amplified by increasing air-sea fluxes associated with declining sea ice concentration in the coastal Ross-Amundsen Seas.

Wilson, A, Scott RC, Cadeddu MP, Ghate V, Lubin D.  2018.  Cloud optical properties over West Antarctica from shortwave spectroradiometer measurements during AWARE. Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres. 123:9559-9570.   10.1029/2018jd028347   AbstractWebsite

A shortwave spectroradiometer was deployed on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) as part of the U.S. Department of Energy Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) program ARM West Antarctic Radiation Experiment (AWARE). This instrument recorded 1-min averages of downwelling hemispheric spectral irradiance covering the wavelength range 350-2,200nm with spectral resolution 3 and 10nm for wavelengths shorter and longer than 1,000nm, respectively. Using simultaneous micropulse lidar data to identify the thermodynamic phase of stratiform clouds, a radiative transfer algorithm is used to retrieve optical depth and effective droplet (or particle) size for single-phase liquid water and ice water clouds. The AWARE campaign on the WAIS first sampled typical climatological conditions between 7 December 2015 and 9 January 2016 and then a much warmer air mass with more moisture associated with a surface melt event between 10 and 17 January 2016. Before the melt event most liquid cloud effective droplet radii were consistent with pristine polar maritime clouds (mode radius 13.5m) but showed a second local maximum in the distribution (at 8m) consistent with colder, moisture-limited conditions. Most ice clouds sampled occurred before the melt event (mode optical depth 4 and effective particle size 19m). During the melt event liquid water cloud optical depth nearly doubled (mode value increasing from 8 to 14). AWARE therefore sampled on the WAIS two cases relevant to climate model simulations: typical current climatological conditions, followed by warmer meteorology possibly consistent with future increasing surface melt scenarios.

Liu, J, Dedrick J, Russell LM, Senum GI, Uin J, Kuang CG, Springston SR, Leaitch WR, Aiken AC, Lubin D.  2018.  High summertime aerosol organic functional group concentrations from marine and seabird sources at Ross Island, Antarctica, during AWARE. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics. 18:8571-8587.   10.5194/acp-18-8571-2018   AbstractWebsite

Observations of the organic components of the natural aerosol are scarce in Antarctica, which limits our understanding of natural aerosols and their connection to seasonal and spatial patterns of cloud albedo in the region. From November 2015 to December 2016, the ARM West Antarctic Radiation Experiment (AWARE) measured submicron aerosol properties near McMurdo Station at the southern tip of Ross Island. Submicron organic mass (OM), particle number, and cloud condensation nuclei concentrations were higher in summer than other seasons. The measurements included a range of compositions and concentrations that likely reflected both local anthropogenic emissions and natural background sources. We isolated the natural organic components by separating a natural factor and a local combustion factor. The natural OM was 150 times higher in summer than in winter. The local anthropogenic emissions were not hygroscopic and had little contribution to the CCN concentrations. Natural sources that included marine sea spray and seabird emissions contributed 56 % OM in summer but only 3 % in winter. The natural OM had high hydroxyl group fraction (55 %), 6 % alkane, and 6 % amine group mass, consistent with marine organic composition. In addition, the Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectra showed the natural sources of organic aerosol were characterized by amide group absorption, which may be from seabird populations. Carboxylic acid group contributions were high in summer and associated with natural sources, likely forming by secondary reactions.

Podgorny, I, Lubin D, Perovich DK.  2018.  Monte Carlo study of UAV-measurable albedo over Arctic Sea ice. Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology. 35:57-66.   10.1175/jtech-d-17-0066.1   AbstractWebsite

In anticipation that unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) will have a useful role in atmospheric energy budget studies over sea ice, a Monte Carlo model is used to investigate three-dimensional radiative transfer over a highly inhomogeneous surface albedo involving open water, sea ice, and melt ponds. The model simulates the spatial variability in 550-nm downwelling irradiance and albedo that a UAV would measure above this surface and underneath an optically thick, horizontally homogeneous cloud. At flight altitudes higher than 100 m above the surface, an airborne radiometer will sample irradiances that are greatly smoothed horizontally as a result of photon multiple reflection. If one is interested in sampling the local energy budget contrasts between specific surface types, then the UAV must fly at a low altitude, typically within 20 m of the surface. Spatial upwelling irradiance variability in larger open water features, on the order of 1000 m wide, will remain apparent as high as 500 m above the surface. To fully investigate the impact of surface feature variability on the energy budget of the lower troposphere ice-ocean system, a UAV needs to fly at a variety of altitudes to determine how individual features contribute to the area-average albedo.