NNA: NSFGEO-NERC: Collaborative Research: The Integrated Characterization of Clouds, Energy, Atmospheric state, and Precipitation at Summit, Aerosol-Cloud Experiment (ICECAPS-ACE)

PI Institute/Department Email
Walden, Von
Washington State University, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Bennartz, Ralf
U of Wisconsin, Madison
Shupe, Matthew
U of Colorado, Boulder, Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences
Funding Agency
Program Manager Funding Agency Email
Mercer, Dr. Jennifer
NSF, Office of Polar Programs
Meteorology and Climate\Atmospheric Radiation | Meteorology and Climate\Cloud Physics
Science Summary

The Greenland Ice Sheet is a unique location in the Arctic. It rises from sea level to over 10,000 feet in elevation and is, by far, the largest topographic feature north of the Arctic Circle. Scientists have determined that the ice sheet is sensitive to climatic fluctuations. In spite of its uniqueness and importance, it is relatively under-studied compared to other locations on Earth. The Integrated Characterization of Energy, Clouds, Atmospheric state, and Precipitation at Summit (ICECAPS) project has been measuring properties of the surface and atmosphere over Greenland since 2010. This long-term field campaign has allowed researchers to better understand how the atmosphere affects the ice sheet. In particular, the project has helped to determine the role that clouds and precipitation over Greenland play in modulating the mass and energy budgets of the ice sheet. These processes are essential for properly quantifying how much melt water is produced by the Greenland Ice Sheet, and how this contributes to global sea-level rise. As part of this new project, the instrument suite will be expanded to include an Aerosol-Cloud Experiment (ACE) through a partnership with researchers at the U.K. Natural Environment Research Council. ICECAPS-ACE will continue to make routine observations of the atmosphere but includes two new major goals. First, ICECAPS-ACE will provide a better understanding of aerosol-cloud interactions over the Greenland Ice Sheet. Summit Station is a unique location to study such interactions because there are no significant local sources of cloud-active aerosols. Aerosols are tiny particles in the atmosphere that play a significant role in cloud formation. Knowledge of the interaction between aerosols and clouds is important for providing more accurate models of weather and climate over Greenland. Secondly, ICECAPS-ACE will provide a comprehensive suite of observations as part of the Year of Polar Prediction (YOPP) that can be used for the assessment of numerical models. It will also overlap with field activities of the Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate (MOSAiC) project, which offers an unprecedented focus by the operational modeling community on the Arctic system. The continuation of the ICECAPS field campaign will create a valuable 10-year dataset that documents changes from year-to-year from this unique location in Greenland. The Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS) is of critical importance to human society because of its role in global sea-level rise, and it is melting at an accelerating rate. Providing a better understanding of the interactions between aerosols and clouds is of direct societal value because of their ultimate impact on the GrIS mass and energy budgets. Since 2010 ICECAPS has significantly advanced understanding of cloud properties, radiation and surface energy, and precipitation processes over the GrIS, while also supporting process-based model evaluation, development of new measurement techniques, ground comparisons for multiple satellite measurements and aircraft missions, and operational radiosonde data for weather forecast models. The new ICECAPS-ACE will provide insight into the role that advective aerosol sources play in cloud and precipitation processes. The addition of the aerosol measurements will allow, for the first time, an investigation of how aerosols impact the surface energy and mass budgets of the central GrIS. Because of the importance of the GrIS to the Arctic, the ICECAPS project has been endorsed as a YOPP activity and will archive high-resolution data to be used for physical process-based model evaluation and verification that will focus on the surface energy budget, precipitation, and cloud-aerosol interactions.

Logistics Summary

Researchers on this collaboration between Walden (1801764, LEAD, WSU), Shupe (1801477, CU) and Bennartz (1801318, UW-Madison) will continue support begun under NSF grants 0856773 & 1414314. The Integrated Characterization of Energy, Clouds, Atmospheric state, and Precipitation at Summit (ICECAPS) project has been continuously operated at Summit since 2010. The project entails year-round operation of a sophisticated suite of ground-based instruments for observing clouds, precipitation, and atmospheric structure, including radar, lidar, ceilometer, microwave radiometers, infrared spectrometer, sodar, precipitation sensors, and twice-daily radiosondes. Logistic details under 1801764.

Season Field Site Date In Date Out #People
Greenland - Summit
Greenland - Summit