Aerosols, clouds and the effect on Arctic climate (PhD project)

Co-investigator: Ian Brooks, Paul Field

Postgraduate student: Ruth Price

This PhD project aims to improve our understanding of clouds in the Arctic using sophisticated computer models as well as existing and new measurements. The overall aim is to understand what controls the behaviour of Arctic low-level clouds, how their behaviour may change in future, and what impact any changes will have on the climate of the Arctic. The climate is changing in the Arctic more rapidly than anywhere else on the planet. The decline of Arctic sea ice (currently 13% per decade) leads to regions of open water, which leads to more of the sun’s energy being absorbed and further acceleration of the warming. However, persistent low-level cloud cover in the Arctic, particularly in the summer and autumn, can have a dramatic effect on the surface temperature, but currently these clouds are not well understood and are therefore poorly handled in climate models. As a consequence, our ability to accurately predict future changes in Arctic climate is hampered. The project will exploit the wealth of new aerosol and cloud measurements from the high Arctic and explore the physical processes using high-resolution climate model simulations.