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Atmospheric Measurement Techniques An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union

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doi:10.5194/amt-2016-332
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
24 Oct 2016
Review status
A revision of this discussion paper is under review for the journal Atmospheric Measurement Techniques (AMT).
Determining stages of cirrus life-cycle evolution: A cloud classification scheme
Benedikt Urbanek, Silke Groß, Andreas Schäfler, and Martin Wirth Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt, Institut für Physik der Atmosphäre, Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany
Abstract. Cirrus clouds impose high uncertainties on climate prediction, as knowledge on important processes is still incomplete. For instance it remains unclear how cloud microphysical and radiative properties change as the cirrus evolves. Recent studies classify cirrus clouds into categories including "in situ", "orographic", "convective" and "liquid origin" clouds and investigate their specific impact. Following this line, we present a novel scheme for the classification of cirrus clouds that addresses the need to determine specific stages of cirrus life-cycle evolution. Our classification scheme is based on airborne Differential Absorption and High Spectral Resolution Lidar measurements of atmospheric water vapor, aerosol depolarization, and backscatter, together with model temperature fields and simplified parameterizations of freezing onset conditions. It identifies regions of supersaturation with respect to ice (ISSR), heterogeneous and homogeneous nucleation, depositional growth, and ice sublimation and sedimentation with high spatial resolution. Thus the whole cirrus life-cycle can be traced. In a case study of a gravity lee wave influenced cirrus cloud, encountered during the ML-CIRRUS flight campaign, the applicability of our classification is demonstrated. Revealing the structure of cirrus clouds, this valuable tool might help to examine the influence of life-cycle stages on the cloud's net radiative effect and to investigate the specific variability of optical and microphysical cloud properties in upcoming research.

Citation: Urbanek, B., Groß, S., Schäfler, A., and Wirth, M.: Determining stages of cirrus life-cycle evolution: A cloud classification scheme, Atmos. Meas. Tech. Discuss., doi:10.5194/amt-2016-332, in review, 2016.
Benedikt Urbanek et al.
Benedikt Urbanek et al.
Benedikt Urbanek et al.

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Short summary
We developed a classification scheme based on airborne Lidar data that identifies cirrus evolution stages from cloud formation to break up. Applying it in a case study from the ML-CIRRUS campaign, we then investigate the impact of large-scale dynamics and small-scale gravity lee waves on the detailed spatial distribution of those evolution stages in individual clouds. Our scheme may help to gain more insights in radiative properties of cirrus under various formation and life-cycle conditions.
We developed a classification scheme based on airborne Lidar data that identifies cirrus...
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