Surface-Based Remote Sensing of Marine Boundary-Layer Cloud Properties

Allen B. White Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado/National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Boulder, Colorado

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C. W. Fairall National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/Environmental Technology Laboratory, Boulder, Colorado

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Jack B. Snider National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/Environmental Technology Laboratory, Boulder, Colorado

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Abstract

Surface-based measurements are used to define some of the important macrophysical and optical properties of marine clouds. These measurements were taken during five different marine field programs. A progression is made from a midlatitude marine stratocumulus regime with an average cloud fraction of 0.7 and a median cloud base of 460 m to a marine tropical regime with an average cloud fraction of 0.2 and a median cloud base of 1050 m. Measurements of the solar transmission coefficient taken during the Atlantic Stratocumulus Transition Experiment (ASTEX) were used in a radiative transfer algorithm to produce values of albedo, absorption, and optical depth. A microwave radiometer provided measurements of the liquid water path (LWP). For a given LWP, the ASTEX optical depths averaged a factor of 2 smaller than the optical depths observed during the marine stratocumulus phase of the First International Cloud Climatology Program Regional Experiment (FIRE) at San Nicolas Island, off the coast of southern California. The variability of boundary-layer aerosol concentrations measured during ASTEX is sufficient to produce a factor of 2 change in optical depth. Further evidence suggests that the cloud droplet effective radius was nearly a factor of 2 larger during ASTFX than during FIRE.

Abstract

Surface-based measurements are used to define some of the important macrophysical and optical properties of marine clouds. These measurements were taken during five different marine field programs. A progression is made from a midlatitude marine stratocumulus regime with an average cloud fraction of 0.7 and a median cloud base of 460 m to a marine tropical regime with an average cloud fraction of 0.2 and a median cloud base of 1050 m. Measurements of the solar transmission coefficient taken during the Atlantic Stratocumulus Transition Experiment (ASTEX) were used in a radiative transfer algorithm to produce values of albedo, absorption, and optical depth. A microwave radiometer provided measurements of the liquid water path (LWP). For a given LWP, the ASTEX optical depths averaged a factor of 2 smaller than the optical depths observed during the marine stratocumulus phase of the First International Cloud Climatology Program Regional Experiment (FIRE) at San Nicolas Island, off the coast of southern California. The variability of boundary-layer aerosol concentrations measured during ASTEX is sufficient to produce a factor of 2 change in optical depth. Further evidence suggests that the cloud droplet effective radius was nearly a factor of 2 larger during ASTFX than during FIRE.

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