• Modeling of Arctic stratus cloud formation and the maintenance of the cloudy Arctic boundary layer

      Zhang, Qiuqing; Stamnes, Knut; Harrington, Jerry; Sentman, Davis; Watkins, Brenton (1999)
      The formation of Arctic stratus clouds (ASCs) and the maintenance of the cloudy Arctic boundary layer are studied with two models: a one-dimensional radiative-convective model and a three-dimensional large eddy simulation (LES) model. The one-dimensional radiative-convective model consists of a comprehensive radiative module, a cloud parameterization with detailed microphysics and a convective adjustment scheme. The model is designed specifically for studying ASC formation. With this model, the roles of radiation and cloud microphysics in the formation of ASCs and multiple cloud layers are investigated. The simulations reproduce both single and multiple cloud layers that were observed with inversions of temperature and humidity occurring near the cloud top. The detailed cloud microstructure produced by the model also compares well with the observations. The physics of the formation of both single and multiple cloud layers is investigated. Radiative cooling plays a key role during the initial stage of cloud formation in a atmosphere. It leads to a continual temperature decrease promoting water vapor condensation on available cloud condensation nuclei. The vertical distribution of humidity and temperature determines the radiative cooling and eventually where and when the cloud forms. The observed temperature inversion may also be explained by radiative cooling. The three-dimensional LES model is adopted to evaluate the one-dimensional model, especially the convective adjustment scheme. The advantages and limitations of the one-dimensional model are discussed. The LES results suggest that the convective adjustment scheme is capable of capturing the main features of the vertical heat and moisture fluxes in the cloudy Arctic boundary layer. The LES model is also used to investigate the maintenance of the cloudy Arctic boundary layer. The turbulence in the cloudy Arctic boundary layer is primarily maintained by the buoyancy effect due to the cloud top cooling. It is found that weak large scale downward motion aids in cloud development and maintenance.