The Radiative Effect on Cloud Microphysics from the Arctic to the Tropics

Cloud representation is one of the largest uncertainties in the current weather and climate models. In this article, the observations and modeling of the radiative effect on (cloud) microphysics (REM) from the Arctic to the Tropics are overviewed, providing a new direction to meet the challenge of cloud representation. REM deals with the radiation-induced temperature difference between cloud particles and air. It leads to two common phenomena observed at the surface—dew and frost—and impacts clouds aloft significantly, which is noticed via the wide occurrence of horizontally oriented ice crystals (HOICs). However, REM has been overlooked by all of the operational weather and climate models. Based on the bin model of REM and the global distribution of radiative cooling/warming, the observations of REM from several platforms (e.g., aircrafts, field campaigns, and satellites) are coordinated in this article, yielding a global picture on REM. As a result, the picture is compatible with the global distribution of HOICs and other ice crystal characteristics obtained from various clouds on the globe, such as diamond dust (or clear-sky precipitation) in the Arctic, sub-visual cirrus clouds in the tropical tropopause layer, and other cirrus clouds from the low to high latitudes. In addition, ice crystals possess relatively strong REM compared to liquid drops because their aspect ratio is usually not one. The global picture on REM can be used by the weather and climate modelers to diagnose their cloud representation biases. It can also be used to improve the atmospheric ice retrieval algorithm from satellite observations


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Authors: Zeng, Xiping, Heymsfield, Andrew J., Ulanowski, Zbigniew ORCIDORCID record for Zbigniew Ulanowski, Neely III, Ryan R., Li, Xiaowen, Gong, Jie, Wu, Dong L.

On this site: Joseph Ulanowski
1 September, 2022
Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society / 103
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