Polar cloud radiative forcing plays a crucial role in the determination of the surface and atmospheric energy balance through processes which are not yet fully understood. While there is a broad and fairly complete database of cloud measurements from several Arctic sites and field campaigns through the past two decades, the recent one-year long U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) West Antarctic Radiation Experiment (AWARE) field campaign at McMurdo Station has provided a hitherto unmatched multiple-instrument set of ground-based Antarctic cloud measurements. These observations are processed and used to derive the main cloud and liquid containing layer properties: occurrence fraction, cloud persistence and boundaries, and configuration relative to temperature and moisture inversions. The results are compared to previous Arctic observations. It is concluded that clouds and liquid-bearing layers over McMurdo Station are essentially less prevalent and persistent than their Arctic counterparts. However, they typically have higher bases and show a weaker temperature dependence than in the Arctic, suggesting a more “pristine” Antarctic atmosphere. In addition, the clouds (including both water phases) typically extend toward relatively lower altitudes, and their relation to inversions near cloud top is often similar to those observed in the Arctic.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Atmospheric Science
- Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
- Space and Planetary Science