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Lanham, MD, United States

The eastern Pacific is a climatologically important region. Conventional coupled atmosphere-ocean general circulation models produce positive sea surface temperature biases of 2-5 K in this region because of insufficient stratocumulus clouds. In this study, a global multiscale modeling framework (MMF), which replaces traditional cloud parameterizations with a 2D cloud-resolving model (CRM) in each atmospheric column, is used to examine the seasonal variations of this Pacific region. The CRM component contains an advanced third-order turbulence closure, helping it to better simulate boundary layer turbulence and lowlevel clouds. Compared to available satellite observations of cloud amount, liquid water path, cloud radiative effects, and precipitation, this MMF produces realistic seasonal variations of the eastern Pacific region, although there are some disagreements in the exact location of maximum cloudiness centers in the Peruvian region and the intensity of ITCZ precipitation. Analyses of profile- and subcloud-based decoupling measures reveal very small amplitudes of seasonal variations in the decoupling strength in the subtropics except for those regions off the subtropical coasts where the decoupling measures suggest that the boundary layers should be well coupled in all four seasons. In the Peruvian and Californian regions, the seasonal variations of low clouds are related to those in the boundary layer height and the strength of inversion. Factors that influence the boundary layer and the inversion, such as solar incident radiation, subcloud-layer turbulent mixing, and large-scale subsidence, can collectively explain the seasonal variations of low clouds rather than the deepening-warming mechanism of Bretherton and Wyant cited in earlier studies. © 2013 American Meteorological Society. Source

An analysis of simulated cloud regime transitions along a transect from the subtropical California coast to the tropics for the northern summer season (June-August) is presented in this study. The Community Atmosphere Model, version 5 (CAM5), superparameterized CAM (SPCAM), and an upgraded SPCAM with intermediately prognostic higher-order closure (SPCAM-IPHOC) are used to perform global simulations by imposing climatological sea surface temperature and sea ice distributions. The seasonal-mean properties are compared with recent observations of clouds, radiation, and precipitation and with multimodel intercomparison results. There are qualitative agreements in the characteristics of cloud regimes along the transect among the three models. CAM5 simulates precipitation and shortwave radiative fluxes well but the stratocumulus-to-cumulus transition occurs too close to the coast of California. SPCAM-IPHOC simulates longwave radiative fluxes and precipitable water well, but with systematic biases in shortwave radiative fluxes. The broad, stronger ascending band in SPCAM is related to the large biases in the convective region but the characteristics of the stratocumulus region are still more realistic and the transition occurs slightly farther away from the coast than in CAM5. Even though SPCAM-IPHOC produces the most realistic seasonal-mean transition, it underestimates the mean gradient in low-cloud cover (LCC) across the mean transition location because of an overestimate of LCC in the transition and convective regions that shifts the transition locations farther from the coast. Analysis of two decoupling measures shows consistency in the mean location and the histogram of decoupling locations with those of LCC transition. CAM5, however, lacks such a consistency, suggesting a need for further refinement of its boundary layer cloud parameterization. © 2013 American Meteorological Society. Source

Lau K.-M.,NASA | WU H.-T.,Science Systems And Applications Inc.
Journal of Climate

This study investigates the evolution of cloud and rainfall structures associated with Madden-Julian oscillation (MJO) using Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) data. Two complementary indices are used to define MJO phases. Joint probability distribution functions (PDFs) of cloud-top temperature and radar echo-top height are constructed for each of the eight MJO phases. The genesis stage of MJO convection over the western Pacific (phases 1 and 2) features a bottom-heavy PDF, characterized by abundant warm rain, low clouds, suppressed deep convection, and higher sea surface temperature (SST). As MJO convection develops (phases 3 and 4), a transition from the bottom-heavy to top-heavy PDF occurs. The latter is associated with the development of mixed-phase rain and middle-to-high clouds, coupled with rapid SST cooling. At the MJO convection peak (phase 5), a top-heavy PDF contributed by deep convection with mixed-phase and ice-phase rain and high echo-top heights (>5 km) dominates. The decaying stage (phases 6 and 7) is characterized by suppressed SST, reduced total rain, increased contribution from stratiform rain, and increased nonraining high clouds. Phase 7, in particular, signals the beginning of a return to higher SST and increased warm rain. Phase 8 completes the MJO cycle, returning to a bottom-heavy PDF and SST conditions similar to phase 1. The structural changes in rain and clouds at different phases of MJO are consistent with corresponding changes in derived latent heating profiles, suggesting the importance of a diverse mix of warm, mixed-phase, and ice-phase rain associated with low-level, congestus, and high clouds in constituting the life cycle and the time scales of MJO. Source

Pinzon J.E.,Science Systems And Applications Inc. | Tucker C.J.,NASA
Remote Sensing

The NDVI3g time series is an improved 8-km normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) data set produced from Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) instruments that extends from 1981 to the present. The AVHRR instruments have flown or are flying on fourteen polar-orbiting meteorological satellites operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and are currently flying on two European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT) polar-orbiting meteorological satellites, MetOp-A and MetOp-B. This long AVHRR record is comprised of data from two different sensors: the AVHRR/2 instrument that spans July 1981 to November 2000 and the AVHRR/3 instrument that continues these measurements from November 2000 to the present. The main difficulty in processing AVHRR NDVI data is to properly deal with limitations of the AVHRR instruments. Complicating among-instrument AVHRR inter-calibration of channels one and two is the dual gain introduced in late 2000 on the AVHRR/3 instruments for both these channels. We have processed NDVI data derived from the Sea-Viewing Wide Field-of-view Sensor (SeaWiFS) from 1997 to 2010 to overcome among-instrument AVHRR calibration difficulties. We use Bayesian methods with high quality well-calibrated SeaWiFS NDVI data for deriving AVHRR NDVI calibration parameters. Evaluation of the uncertainties of our resulting NDVI values gives an error of ± 0.005 NDVI units for our 1981 to present data set that is independent of time within our AVHRR NDVI continuum and has resulted in a non-stationary climate data set. © 2014 by the authors. Source

Thomason L.W.,NASA | Vernier J.-P.,Science Systems And Applications Inc.
Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics

We describe the challenges associated with the interpretation of extinction coefficient measurements by the Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment (SAGE II) in the presence of clouds. In particular, we have found that tropo-spheric aerosol analyses are highly dependent on a robust method for identifying when clouds affect the measured extinction coefficient. Herein, we describe an improved cloud identification method that appears to capture cloud/aerosol events more effectively than early methods. In addition, we summarize additional challenges to observing the Asian Tropopause Aerosol Layer (ATAL) using SAGE II observations. Using this new approach, we perform analyses of the upper troposphere, focusing on periods in which the UTLS (upper troposphere/lower stratosphere) is relatively free of volcanic material (1989-1990 and after 1996). Of particular interest is the Asian monsoon anticyclone where CALIPSO (Cloud-Aerosol Lidar Pathfinder Satellite Observations) has observed an aerosol enhancement. This enhancement, called the ATAL, has a similar morphology to observed enhancements in long-lived trace gas species like CO. Since the CALIPSO record begins in 2006, the question of how long this aerosol feature has been present requires a new look at the long-lived SAGE II data sets despite significant hurdles to its use in the subtropical upper troposphere. We find that there is no evidence of ATAL in the SAGE II data prior to 1998. After 1998, it is clear that aerosol in the upper troposphere in the ATAL region is substantially enhanced relative to the period before that time. In addition, the data generally supports the presence of the ATAL beginning in 1999 and continuing through the end of the mission, though some years (e.g., 2003) are complicated by the presence of episodic enhancements most likely of volcanic origin. © Author(s) 2013. Source

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