The Arctic climate is changing at twice the rate of the global average. Clouds play a major role in this process, and even small changes in cloud properties or coverage can lead to dramatic changes in Arctic climate and therefore to the extent of sea ice.
Ice formation in a cloud dramatically alters its properties and therefore its influence on climate. For freezing in clouds to occur, droplets must contain a particle that can catalyze ice formation and growth - an ice nucleus. The sea's surface contains a wide range of bacteria, viruses, plankton and other materials which are ejected into the atmosphere and may cause ice to form. The aim of the ICE-ACCACIA project is to make measurements of ice-nucleating particles in the central Arctic region both in the surface layers of the sea from a research ship and in the air from a BAe-146 research aircraft.
Results from this study will be used to refine computer-based cloud, aerosol and climate models, thereby improving our understanding of Arctic clouds and, in turn, the global climate.