Satellite-based assessment of marine low cloud variability associated with...

Matsui, T., H. Masunaga, S. M. Kreidenweis, R. A. Pielke, W. Tao, M. Chin, and Y. J. Kaufman (2006), Satellite-based assessment of marine low cloud variability associated with aerosol, atmospheric stability, and the diurnal cycle, J. Geophys. Res., 111, D17204, doi:10.1029/2005JD006097.

This study examines variability in marine low cloud properties derived from semiglobal observations by the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite, as linked to the aerosol index (AI) and lower-tropospheric stability (LTS). AI is derived from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (Terra MODIS) sensor and the Goddard Chemistry Aerosol Radiation and Transportation (GOCART) model and is used to represent column-integrated aerosol concentrations. LTS is derived from the NCEP/ NCAR reanalysis and represents the background thermodynamic environment in which the clouds form. Global statistics reveal that cloud droplet size tends to be smallest in polluted (high-AI) and strong inversion (high-LTS) environments. Statistical quantification shows that cloud droplet size is better correlated with AI than it is with LTS. Simultaneously, the cloud liquid water path (CLWP) tends to decrease as AI increases. This correlation does not support the hypothesis or assumption that constant or increased CLWP is associated with high aerosol concentrations. Global variability in corrected cloud albedo (CCA), the product of cloud optical depth and cloud fraction, is very well explained by LTS, while both AI and LTS are needed to explain local variability in CCA. Most of the local correlations between AI and cloud properties are similar to the results from the global statistics, while weak anomalous aerosol-cloud correlations appear locally in the regions where simultaneous high (low) AI and low (high) LTS compensate each other. Daytime diurnal cycles explain additional variability in cloud properties. CCA has the largest diurnal cycle in high-LTS regions. Cloud droplet size and CLWP have weak diurnal cycles that differ between clean and polluted environments. The combined results suggest that investigations of marine low cloud radiative forcing and its relationship to hypothesized aerosol indirect effects must consider the combined effects of aerosols, thermodynamics, and the diurnal cycle.

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Radiation Science Program (RSP)