RALI Thinice

International airborne field campaign dedicated to studying Arctic cyclones

Summary of the RALI-THINICE project

Arctic storm on 14 August 2020: (left) satellite image (source: https://worldview.earthdata.nasa.gov), (right) Sea level pressure (black contours; int : 5 hPa), 10-meter winds (arrows for wind speed greater than 10 m /s), potential vorticity at 300 hPa (shadings ; units : PVU) (source : ERA5 reanalysis data). The light blue isoline corresponds to the sea ice edge. The S letter in green localizes Svalbard.

RALI-THINICE aims at investigating the dynamics of Arctic cyclones (ACs) and tropopause polar vortices (TPVs), as well as their interactions with cloud microphysics, the underlying sea surface and sea ice in particular. A better knowledge of such processes should improve Numerical Weather Predictions (NWPs) in the Arctic and should provide a better understanding of rapid sea ice loss events affecting the Arctic ice field in summer. The project relies on the comparison between NWP simulations, balloon and airborne observations made during an international field campaign in Svalbard in August 2022 involving American, French and British teams.

This field campaign involved two instrumented research aircraft:
  • The ATR42 aircraft operated by SAFIRE (the French facility for airborne research) was equipped with the remote sensing platform RALI, which is composed of a Doppler cloud radar, a high-resolution backscatter lidar and an infrared radiometer. The aircraft also contains in-situ microphysical probes. Measurements made by these instruments characterize mixed-phase clouds that are ubiquitous in the Arctic and difficult to represent in state-of-the-art models.
  • During the same period, the Twin Otter, the second aircraft to be deployed during the campaign by the British Antarctic Survey, measure turbulent fluxes in the atmospheric boundary layer and concurrent sea ice surface properties beneath using remote sensing instruments. This aim to characterize interactions between the sea ice and the lower troposphere. Coordinated flights have been planned between the two aircraft to take advantage of their complementary measurements.

Different case studies will be performed to compare simulations of different global and regional atmospheric models with the observations. It will consist of simulating weather systems of interest, namely Arctic Cyclones, tropopause polar vortices and moist intrusions, that will be or were observed during the future airborne field campaign in 2022 or during recent CloudSat-CALIPSO overpasses. Different sets of cloud microphysical schemes will be tested to analyze their effect on the distribution of hydrometeors in clouds. Their effect on atmospheric circulation will be also analyzed through the link between heating rates and potential vorticity modification. Similarly, the sensitivity to various parameters of sea ice – atmosphere coupling system will be tested to study the interactions between sea ice and Arctic Cyclones.



The RALI-THINICE logo is ready !

RALI-THINICE has a logo ! Do not hesitate to use it for your RALI-THINICE presentations ! The RALI-THINICE’s team thanks Martin Mounier for his help on the logo design and conceptualization.


16 flights realized during RALI-THINICE with the SAFIRE ATR42 !

During the RALI-THINICE field campaign, 16 flights were performed by the French SAFIRE ATR42 to sample diverse areas of Arctic Cyclone such as warm front, warm sector, low-level jet, cyclone core, Warm Conveyor Belt, cold sector, Tropopause Polar Vortices, … Thus, a total of 61h30 of flight time has been realized.


Welcome to the RALI-THINICE project

We are happy to announce the opening of our new website dedicated to RALI-THINICE. Let’s have a look ! In the forthcoming days, you will find all information about the project.