New paper alert! The influence of summertime cloud phase on surface melting over Larsen C

Wahoo! My first first-author paper is out, and it’s open access.

A plain-language summary:

Clouds strongly affect the amount of energy that can reach the surface of floating Antarctic ice shelves like Larsen C in summertime. They can reflect incoming solar radiation and trap outgoing radiation emitted by the Earth. However, the composition and structure of these clouds can determine their exact effect at the surface. For example, clouds that are mostly composed of liquid trap more outgoing terrestrial heat, but reflect more incoming solar radiation. Clouds containing lots of ice on the other hand, let relatively more solar energy reach the surface.

If there is a large surplus of energy at the ice shelf surface, melting can occur, so it is important to understand the role that clouds, and their composition, play. This paper uses a computer model to improve estimates of summertime clouds, surface energy, and surface melting on the Larsen C ice shelf, and shows how this model can be best tailored to Antarctic conditions. We found that when clouds are simulated better, melting is too.

This is important because if we understand surface melting better, we will have a more accurate picture of Larsen C’s stability in a warming climate, which will have implications for future sea level rise.

Full link here:

Citation: Gilbert, E., Orr, A., King, J. C., Renfrew,  I. A, Lachlan-Cope, T., Field, P. R. & Boutle, I. A. (2020) Cloud phase strongly influences summertime cloud phase on the Larsen C ice shelf, Antarctica. Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society (in press).

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