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Trends in Global Cloud Cover in Two Decades of HIRS Observations

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  • 1 Space Science and Engineering Center, University of Wisconsin—Madison, Madison, Wisconsin
  • | 2 Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, Boulder, Colorado
  • | 3 NOAA/NESDIS, Madison, Wisconsin
  • | 4 NOAA/ETL, Asheville, North Carolina
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Abstract

The frequency of cloud detection and the frequency with which these clouds are found in the upper troposphere have been extracted from NOAA High Resolution Infrared Radiometer Sounder (HIRS) polar-orbiting satellite data from 1979 to 2001. The HIRS/2 sensor was flown on nine satellites from the Television Infrared Observation Satellite-Next Generation (TIROS-N) through NOAA-14, forming a 22-yr record. Carbon dioxide slicing was used to infer cloud amount and height. Trends in cloud cover and high-cloud frequency were found to be small in these data. High clouds show a small but statistically significant increase in the Tropics and the Northern Hemisphere. The HIRS analysis contrasts with the International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project (ISCCP), which shows a decrease in both total cloud cover and high clouds during most of this period.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Donald Wylie, Space Science and Engineering Center, University of Wisconsin—Madison, 1225 West Dayton St., Madison, WI 53706. Email: Don.Wylie@ssec.wisc.edu

Abstract

The frequency of cloud detection and the frequency with which these clouds are found in the upper troposphere have been extracted from NOAA High Resolution Infrared Radiometer Sounder (HIRS) polar-orbiting satellite data from 1979 to 2001. The HIRS/2 sensor was flown on nine satellites from the Television Infrared Observation Satellite-Next Generation (TIROS-N) through NOAA-14, forming a 22-yr record. Carbon dioxide slicing was used to infer cloud amount and height. Trends in cloud cover and high-cloud frequency were found to be small in these data. High clouds show a small but statistically significant increase in the Tropics and the Northern Hemisphere. The HIRS analysis contrasts with the International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project (ISCCP), which shows a decrease in both total cloud cover and high clouds during most of this period.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Donald Wylie, Space Science and Engineering Center, University of Wisconsin—Madison, 1225 West Dayton St., Madison, WI 53706. Email: Don.Wylie@ssec.wisc.edu

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