Examining Cloud Macrophysical Changes over the Pacific for 2007–17 Using CALIPSO, CloudSat, and MODIS Observations

Seung-Hee Ham aScience Systems and Applications, Inc., Hampton, Virginia

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Seiji Kato bNASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia

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Fred G. Rose aScience Systems and Applications, Inc., Hampton, Virginia

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Norman G. Loeb bNASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia

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Kuan-Man Xu bNASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia

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Tyler Thorsen bNASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia

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Michael G. Bosilovich cGlobal Modeling and Assimilation Office, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland

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Sunny Sun-Mack aScience Systems and Applications, Inc., Hampton, Virginia

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Yan Chen aScience Systems and Applications, Inc., Hampton, Virginia

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Walter F. Miller aScience Systems and Applications, Inc., Hampton, Virginia

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Abstract

Cloud macrophysical changes over the Pacific Ocean from 2007 to 2017 are examined by combining CALIPSO and CloudSat (CALCS) active-sensor measurements, and these are compared with MODIS passive-sensor observations. Both CALCS and MODIS capture well-known features of cloud changes over the Pacific associated with meteorological conditions during El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events. For example, midcloud (cloud tops at 3–10 km) and high cloud (cloud tops at 10–18 km) amounts increase with relative humidity (RH) anomalies. However, a better correlation is obtained between CALCS cloud volume and RH anomalies, confirming more accurate CALCS cloud boundaries than MODIS. Both CALCS and MODIS show that low cloud (cloud tops at 0–3 km) amounts increase with EIS and decrease with SST over the eastern Pacific, consistent with earlier studies. It is also further shown that the low cloud amounts do not increase with positive EIS anomalies if SST anomalies are positive. While similar features are found between CALCS and MODIS low cloud anomalies, differences also exist. First, relative to CALCS, MODIS shows stronger anticorrelation between low and mid/high cloud anomalies over the central and western Pacific, which is largely due to the limitation in detecting overlapping clouds from passive MODIS measurements. Second, relative to CALCS, MODIS shows smaller impacts of mid- and high clouds on the low troposphere (<3 km). The differences are due to the underestimation of MODIS cloud layer thicknesses of mid- and high clouds.

© 2021 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Seung-Hee Ham, seung-hee.ham@nasa.gov

Abstract

Cloud macrophysical changes over the Pacific Ocean from 2007 to 2017 are examined by combining CALIPSO and CloudSat (CALCS) active-sensor measurements, and these are compared with MODIS passive-sensor observations. Both CALCS and MODIS capture well-known features of cloud changes over the Pacific associated with meteorological conditions during El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events. For example, midcloud (cloud tops at 3–10 km) and high cloud (cloud tops at 10–18 km) amounts increase with relative humidity (RH) anomalies. However, a better correlation is obtained between CALCS cloud volume and RH anomalies, confirming more accurate CALCS cloud boundaries than MODIS. Both CALCS and MODIS show that low cloud (cloud tops at 0–3 km) amounts increase with EIS and decrease with SST over the eastern Pacific, consistent with earlier studies. It is also further shown that the low cloud amounts do not increase with positive EIS anomalies if SST anomalies are positive. While similar features are found between CALCS and MODIS low cloud anomalies, differences also exist. First, relative to CALCS, MODIS shows stronger anticorrelation between low and mid/high cloud anomalies over the central and western Pacific, which is largely due to the limitation in detecting overlapping clouds from passive MODIS measurements. Second, relative to CALCS, MODIS shows smaller impacts of mid- and high clouds on the low troposphere (<3 km). The differences are due to the underestimation of MODIS cloud layer thicknesses of mid- and high clouds.

© 2021 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Seung-Hee Ham, seung-hee.ham@nasa.gov

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