Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Ice supersaturation and cirrus cloud formation from global in-situ observations
by Diao, Minghui, Ph.D., Princeton University, 2013, 254; 3597474
Abstract (Summary)

Water vapor, clouds and aerosols are three major components in the atmosphere that largely influence the Earth's climate and weather systems. However, there is still a lack of understanding on the distribution and interaction of these components. Large uncertainties still remain in estimating the magnitude and direction of the aerosol indirect effect on cloud radiative forcing, which potentially can either double or cancel out all anthropogenic greenhouse gas effect. In particular, a small variation in water vapor mixing ratio and cloud distribution in the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere (UT/LS) can generate large impacts on the Earth's surface temperature. Yet the understanding of water vapor and clouds in the UT/LS is still limited due to difficulties in observations. To improve our understanding of these components, observations are needed from the microscale (~100 m) to the global scale. The first part of my PhD work is to provide quality-controlled, high resolution (~200 m), in situ water vapor observations using an open-path, aircraft-based laser hygrometer. The laboratory calibrations of the laser hygrometer were conducted using complementary experimental systems. The second part is to compare the NASA AIRS/AMSU-A water vapor and temperature retrievals with aircraft-based observations from the surface to the UT/LS at 87°N-67°S in order to understand the accuracy and uncertainties in remote sensing measurements. The third part of my research analyzes the spatial characteristics and formation condition of ice supersaturation (ISS), the birthplace of cirrus clouds, and shows that water vapor horizontal heterogeneities play a key role in determining the spatial distribution of ISS. The fourth part is to understand the formation and evolution of ice crystal regions (ICRs) in a quasi-Lagrangian view. Finally, to help estimate the hemispheric differences in ice nucleation, the ISS distribution and ICR evolution are compared between the two hemispheres. Overall, these analyses provided a microphysical scale yet global perspective of the formation of ISS and cirrus clouds. Ultimately, these efforts will help to improve the understanding of human activities' influences on clouds, water vapor and relative humidity in the UT/LS and provide more accurate representations of these components in future climate prediction.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Zondlo, Mark A.
Commitee: Donnor, Leo J., Fueglistaler, Stephan A., Smith, James A., Wood, Eric
School: Princeton University
Department: Civil and Environmental Engineering
School Location: United States -- New Jersey
Source: DAI-B 75/02(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Atmospheric Chemistry, Atmospheric sciences, Environmental engineering
Keywords: Airs, Cirrus, Cirrus cloud formation, Ice crystal, Ice supersaturation, Nucleation, Water vapor
Publication Number: 3597474
ISBN: 9781303455797