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Cirrus, contrails, and ice supersaturated regions in high pressure systems at northern mid latitudes

by F Immler, R Treffeisen, D Engelbart, K Krüger, O Schrems
Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics ()
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During the European heat wave summer 2003 with predominant high pressure conditions we performed a detailed study of upper tropospheric humidity and ice particles which yielded striking results concerning the occurrence of ice supersaturated regions (ISSR), cirrus, and contrails. Our study is based on lidar observations and meteorological data obtained at Lindenberg/Germany (52.2 N, 14.1 E) as well as the analysis of the European centre for medium range weather forecast (ECMWF). Cirrus clouds were detected in 55% of the lidar profiles and a large fraction of them were subvisible (optical depth <0.03). Thin ice clouds were particularly ubiquitous in high pressure systems. The radiosonde data showed that the upper troposphere was very often supersaturated with respect to ice. Relating the radiosonde profiles to concurrent lidar observations reveals that the ISSRs almost always contained ice particles. Persistent contrails observed with a camera were frequently embedded in these thin or subvisible cirrus clouds. The ECMWF cloud parametrisation reproduces the observed cirrus clouds consistently and a close correlation between the ice water path in the model and the measured optical depth of cirrus is demonstrated.

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