Assessment of the Dehydration-Greenhouse Feedback Over the Arctic During Winter


The effect of pollution-derived sulphuric acid aerosols on the aerosol-cloud-radiation interactions is investigated over the Arctic for February 1990. Observations suggest that acidic aerosols can decrease the heterogeneous nucleation rate of ice crystals and lower the homogeneous freezing temperature of haze droplets. Based on these observations, we hypothesize that the cloud thermodynamic phase is modified in polluted air mass (Arctic haze). Cloud ice number concentration is reduced, thus promoting further ice crystal growth by the Bergeron-Findeisen process. Hence, ice crystals reach larger sizes and low-level ice crystal precipitation from mixed-phase clouds increases. Enhanced dehydration of the lower troposphere contributes to decrease the water vapour greenhouse effect and cool the surface. A positive feedback is created between surface cooling and air dehydration, accelerating the cold air production. This process is referred to as the dehydration-greenhouse feedback (DGF). Simulations performed using an arctic regional climate model for February 1990, February and March 1985 and 1995 are used to assess the potential effect of the DGF on the Arctic climate. Results show that the DGF has an important effect over the Central and Eurasian Arctic, which is the coldest part of the Arctic with a surface cooling ranging between 0 and -3K. Moreover, the lower tropospheric cooling over the Eurasian and Central Arctic strengthens the atmospheric circulation at upper level, thus increasing the aerosol transport from the mid-latitudes and enhancing the DGF. Over warmer areas, the increased aerosol concentration (caused by the DGF) leads to longer cloud lifetime, which contributes to warm these areas. It is also shown that the maximum ice nuclei reduction must be of the order of 100 to get a significant effect.