Annual cycle observations of aerosols capable of ice formation in central Arctic clouds

Nat Commun. 2022 Jun 20;13(1):3537. doi: 10.1038/s41467-022-31182-x.

Abstract

The Arctic is warming faster than anywhere else on Earth, prompting glacial melt, permafrost thaw, and sea ice decline. These severe consequences induce feedbacks that contribute to amplified warming, affecting weather and climate globally. Aerosols and clouds play a critical role in regulating radiation reaching the Arctic surface. However, the magnitude of their effects is not adequately quantified, especially in the central Arctic where they impact the energy balance over the sea ice. Specifically, aerosols called ice nucleating particles (INPs) remain understudied yet are necessary for cloud ice production and subsequent changes in cloud lifetime, radiative effects, and precipitation. Here, we report observations of INPs in the central Arctic over a full year, spanning the entire sea ice growth and decline cycle. Further, these observations are size-resolved, affording valuable information on INP sources. Our results reveal a strong seasonality of INPs, with lower concentrations in the winter and spring controlled by transport from lower latitudes, to enhanced concentrations of INPs during the summer melt, likely from marine biological production in local open waters. This comprehensive characterization of INPs will ultimately help inform cloud parameterizations in models of all scales.

MeSH terms

  • Aerosols
  • Arctic Regions
  • Climate*
  • Ice Cover*
  • Seasons

Substances

  • Aerosols