U.S. Department of Energy Office of Biological and Environmental Research

BER Research Highlights

Improving the Treatment of Ice Clouds for Climate Models
Published: August 10, 2009
Posted: August 14, 2009

Scientists in DOE's Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) program used ARM measurements to show that the shapes of ice crystal vary considerably between recently formed ice clouds and aged ice clouds.  This is important because the shape of ice crystals determines how sunlight is reflected by clouds.  Accurate representations of how clouds affect sunlight are needed for climate models to determine how clouds might enhance or reduce the warming associated with increases in greenhouse gases.  This study used unique high-resolution images of ice crystals measured near Darwin, Australia during the ARM-sponsored Tropical Warm Pool International Cloud Experiment.  These scientists also developed new models, which differ significantly from those currently used in climate models, to show how the observed aggregate crystals affect sunlight.  Application of these results in climate models will enable more accurate representations of the interactions of ice clouds and sunlight. 

Reference:  Um, J., and G.M. McFarquhar (2009), Single-scattering properties of aggregates of plates, Quart. J. Roy. Meteor. Soc., 135, 291-304.

Contact: Kiran Alapaty, SC-23.1, (301) 903-3175
Topic Areas:

  • Research Area: Earth and Environmental Systems Modeling
  • Research Area: Atmospheric System Research

Division: SC-23.1 Climate and Environmental Sciences Division, BER


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