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On the upper tropospheric formation and occurrence of high and thin cirrus clouds during anticyclonic poleward Rossby wave breaking events

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Ground-based lidar measurements and balloon soundings were employed to examine the dynamical link between anticyclonic Rossby wave breaking and cirrus clouds from 13 to 15 February 2006. For this event, an air mass with low Ertel's potential vorticity appeared over Central Europe. In the tropopause region, this air mass was accompanied with both an area of extreme cold temperatures placed northeastward, and an area of high specific humidity, located southwestward. ECMWF analyses reveal a strong adiabatic northeastward and upward transport of water vapour within the warm conveyor belt on the western side of the ridge over Mecklenburg, Northern Germany. The backscatter lidar at Kühlungsborn (54.1°N, 11.8°E) clearly identified cirrus clouds at between 9 and 11.4 km height. In the tropopause region high-vertical resolution radiosoundings showed layers of subsaturated water vapour over ice but with a relative humidity over ice >80%. Over Northern Germany radiosondes indicated anticyclonically rotating winds in agreement with backward trajectories of ECMWF analyses in the upper troposphere, which were accompanied by a relatively strong increase of the tropopause height on 14 February. Based on ECMWF data the strong link between the large-scale structure, updraft and ice water content was shown.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Leibniz – Institut für Atmosphärenphysik an der Universität Rostock, Schlossstraße 6, D-18225 Ostseebad Kühlungsborn, Mecklenburg, Germany 2: Institut für Physik der Atmosphäre, DLR Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany

Publication date: May 1, 2010

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