05 Jan 2022

05 Jan 2022

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal ESSD.

Water vapor in cold and clean atmosphere: a 3-year data set in the boundary layer of Dome C, East Antarctic Plateau

Christophe Genthon1, Dana E. Veron2, Etienne Vignon1, Jean-Baptiste Madeleine1, and Luc Piard3 Christophe Genthon et al.
  • 1Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique, Paris, France
  • 2Department of Geography and Spatial Sciences, University of Delaware, Newark, USA
  • 3Institut des Géosciences de l’Environnement, Grenoble, France

Abstract. The air at the surface of the high Antarctic Plateau is very cold, dry and clean. In such conditions the atmospheric moisture can significantly deviate from thermodynamic equilibrium conditions, and supersaturation with respect to ice can occur. Most conventional humidity sensors for meteorological applications cannot report supersaturation in this environment. A simple approach for measuring supersaturation using conventional instruments, one being operated in a heated airflow, is presented. Since 2018, this instrumental setup was deployed at 3 levels in the lower ~40 m above the surface at Dome C on the high Antarctic Plateau. The 3-year 2018–2020 record (Genthon et al. 2021) is presented and analyzed for features such as the frequency of supersaturation with respect to ice, diurnal and seasonal variability, and vertical distribution. As supercooled liquid water droplets are frequently observed in clouds at the temperatures met on the high Antarctic Plateau, the distribution of relative humidity with respect to liquid water at Dome C is also discussed. It is suggested that, while not strictly mimicking the conditions of the high troposphere, the surface atmosphere on the Antarctic Plateau is a convenient natural laboratory to test parametrizations of cold microphysics predominantly developed to handle the genesis of high tropospheric clouds. Data are distributed on the PANGAEA data repository at (Genthon et al., 2021).

Christophe Genthon et al.

Status: open (until 02 Mar 2022)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on essd-2021-412', John King, 19 Jan 2022 reply
  • RC2: 'Comment on essd-2021-412', Anonymous Referee #2, 20 Jan 2022 reply

Christophe Genthon et al.

Data sets

Water vapor observation in the lower atmospheric boundary layer at Dome C, East Antarctic plateau Genthon, Christophe; Veron, Dana; Vignon, Etienne; Madeleine, Jean-Baptiste; Piard, Luc

Christophe Genthon et al.


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Short summary
The surface atmosphere of the high antarctic plateau is very cold and clean. Such conditions favor water vapor supersaturation. A 3-year quasi continuous series of atmospheric moisture in a ~40-m atmospheric layer at Dome C is reported, which documents time variability, vertical profiles and occurrences of supersaturation. While supersaturation with respect to ice is frequent throughout the column, relative humidity with respect to (supercooled) liquid water reaches close to saturation.