Crysopheric and Polar Processes Seminar
Understanding the atmospheric drivers of Arctic sea ice variability – the role of past and future aircraft experiments
Dr. Sebastian Schmidt
Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics and
Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences
This seminar will explore how aircraft observations can be used to study atmosphere-radiation-surface interactions in the Arctic. Although shortcomings in model predictions of sea ice and atmospheric parameters play out on different spatial and temporal scales, they cannot be addressed separately because the atmosphere and the surface interact through different mechanisms that depend on region, season, and prevalent synoptic regimes. One can argue that this is precisely the challenge for future Arctic experiments. Aircraft observations are not the immediately obvious choice for studying complicated interaction processes, especially when these manifest themselves on variegated scales or magnitudes. Fortunately, we have learned a lot from recent radiation science experiments where aircraft observations were synthesized with ground-based and satellite data within a modeling framework. When integrated in such a way, airborne measurements turn out to be a key component in an observational strategy that can access interaction processes with adequate detail. I will give examples of this emerging trend, discuss some of the lessons learned, and touch on new capabilities. Building on these, I will motivate a new experiment initiative with science questions that link Arctic clouds, atmospheric structure, surface conditions, radiation and precipitation. A central goal is to diagnose (and ultimately improve) the ability of different models to trace Arctic clouds throughout their lifetime in a way that is consistent with merged airborne, surface, and satellite observations. I will present an evolving strategy for capturing the various scale-dependent interaction processes with observational approaches inherited from prior experiments, and invite the audience to join in the discussion of the most relevant science questions.