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A comparison of ship and satellite measurements of cloud properties with global climate model simulations in the southeast Pacific stratus deck

by M. a. Brunke, S. P. De Szoeke, P. Zuidema, X. Zeng
Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics ()


Here, liquid water path (LWP), cloud fraction, cloud top height, and cloud base height retrieved by a suite of A-train satellite instruments (the CPR aboard CloudSat, CALIOP aboard CALIPSO, and MODIS aboard Aqua) are compared to ship observations from research cruises made in 2001 and 2003–2007 into the stratus/stratocumulus deck over the southeast Pacific Ocean. It is found that CloudSat radar-only LWP is generally too high over this region and the CloudSat/CALIPSO cloud bases are too low. This results in a relationship (LWP~h9) between CloudSat LWP and CALIPSO cloud thickness (h) that is very different from the adiabatic relationship (LWP~h2) from in situ observations. Such biases can be reduced if LWPs suspected to be contaminated by precipitation are eliminated, as determined by the maximum radar reflectivity Zmax>−15 dBZ in the apparent lower half of the cloud, and if cloud bases are determined based upon the adiabatically-determined cloud thickness (h~LWP1/2). Furthermore, comparing results from a global model (CAM3.1) to ship observations reveals that, while the simulated LWP is quite reasonable, the model cloud is too thick and too low, allowing the model to have LWPs that are almost independent of h. This model can also obtain a reasonable diurnal cycle in LWP and cloud fraction at a location roughly in the centre of this region (20° S, 85° W) but has an opposite diurnal cycle to those observed aboard ship at a location closer to the coast (20° S, 75° W). The diurnal cycle at the latter location is slightly improved in the newest version of the model (CAM4). However, the simulated clouds remain too thick and too low, as cloud bases are usually at or near the surface.

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