Ice shards in Antarctic clouds let more solar energy reach Earth’s surface

Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctica

It’s noted that ‘Getting clouds right…is important for calculating how much solar radiation reaches Earth.’ A difference of 10 watts per square metre could be involved in some zones, the researchers found.
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Clouds come in myriad shapes, sizes and types, which control their effects on climate, says Phys.org.

New research led by the University of Washington shows that splintering of frozen liquid droplets to form ice shards inside Southern Ocean clouds dramatically affects the clouds’ ability to reflect sunlight back to space.

The paper, published March 4 in the open-access journal AGU Advances, shows that including this ice-splintering process improves the ability of high-resolution global models to simulate clouds over the Southern Ocean—and thus the models’ ability to simulate Earth’s climate.

“Southern Ocean low clouds shouldn’t be treated as liquid clouds,” said lead author Rachel Atlas, a UW doctoral student in atmospheric sciences. “Ice formation in Southern Ocean low clouds has a substantial effect on the cloud properties and needs to be accounted for in global models.”

Results show that it’s important to include the process whereby icy particles collide with supercooled droplets of water causing them to freeze and then shatter, forming many more shards of ice. Doing so makes the clouds dimmer, or decreases their reflectance, allowing more sunlight to reach the ocean’s surface.

The difference between including the details of ice formation inside the clouds versus not including them was 10 watts per square meter between 45 degrees south and 65 degrees south in the summer, which is enough energy to have a significant effect on temperature.

Full article here.

via Tallbloke’s Talkshop

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April 14, 2022 at 03:39AM

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