Clouds play a crucial role in the Arctic climate system. Therefore, it is essential to accurately and reliably quantify and understand cloud properties over the Arctic. It is also important to monitor and attribute changes in Arctic clouds. Here, we exploit the capability of the CALIPSO-CALIOP instrument and provide comprehensive statistics of tropospheric thin clouds, otherwise extremely difficult to monitor from passive satellite sensors. We use 4 yr of data (June 2006-May 2010) over the circumpolar Arctic, here defined as 67-82 degrees N, and characterize probability density functions of cloud base and top heights, geometrical thickness and zonal distribution of such cloud layers, separately for water and ice phases, and discuss seasonal variability of these properties. When computed for the entire study area, probability density functions of cloud base and top heights and geometrical thickness peak at 200-400, 1000-2000 and 400-800 m, respectively, for thin water clouds, while for ice clouds they peak at 6-8, 7-9 and 400-1000 m, respectively. In general, liquid clouds were often identified below 2 km during all seasons, whereas ice clouds were sensed throughout the majority of the upper troposphere and also, but to a smaller extent, below 2 km for all seasons.
2011. Vol. 63, no 1, 77-85 p.