Case study of a moisture intrusion over the Arctic with the ICOsahedral Non-hydrostatic (ICON) model: resolution dependence of its representation

Marion.Maturilli [ at ]


The Arctic is warming faster than the global average and any other region of a similar size. One important factor in this is the poleward atmospheric transport of heat and moisture, which contributes directly to the surface and air warming. In this case study, the atmospheric circulation and spatio-temporal structure of a moisture intrusion event is assessed, which occurred from 5 to 7 June 2017 over the Nordic seas during an intensive measurement campaign over Svalbard. This analysis focuses on high-spatial-resolution simulations with the ICON (ICOsahedral Non-hydrostatic) model which is put in context with coarser-resolution runs as well the ERA5 reanalysis. A variety of observations including passive microwave satellite measurements is used for evaluation. The global operational ICON forecasts from the Deutscher Wetterdienst (DWD) at 13 km horizontal resolution are used to drive high-resolution Limited-Area Mode (LAM) ICON simulations over the Arctic with 6 and 3 km horizontal resolutions. The results show the skilful capacity of the ICON-LAM model to represent the observed spatio-temporal structure of the selected moisture intrusion event and its signature in the temperature, humidity and wind profiles, and surface radiation. In several aspects, the high-resolution simulations offer a higher accuracy than the global simulations and the ERA5 reanalysis when evaluated against observations. One feature where the high-resolution simulations demonstrated an advanced skill is the representation of the changing vertical structure of specific humidity and wind associated with the moisture intrusion passing Ny-Ålesund (western Svalbard); the humidity increase at 1–2 km height topped by a dry layer and the development of a low-level wind jet are best represented by the 3 km simulation. The study also demonstrates that such moisture intrusions can have a strong impact on the radiative and turbulent heat fluxes at the surface. A drastic decrease in downward shortwave radiation by ca. 500 W m−2 as well as an increase in downward longwave radiation by ca. 100 W m−2 within 3 h have been determined. These results highlight the importance of both moisture and clouds associated with this event for the surface energy budget.

Item Type
Primary Division
Primary Topic
Helmholtz Cross Cutting Activity (2021-2027)
Research Networks
Peer revision
Peer-reviewed, Web of Science / Scopus
Publication Status
Eprint ID
DOI 10.5194/acp-22-173-2022

Cite as
Bresson, H. , Rinke, A. , Mech, M. , Reinert, D. , Schemann, V. , Ebell, K. , Maturilli, M. , Viceto, C. , Gorodetskaya, I. and Crewell, S. (2022): Case study of a moisture intrusion over the Arctic with the ICOsahedral Non-hydrostatic (ICON) model: resolution dependence of its representation , Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 22 , pp. 173-196 . doi: 10.5194/acp-22-173-2022

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