Arctic Cloud Changes from Surface and Satellite Observations

Ryan Eastman Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington

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Stephen G. Warren Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington

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Abstract

Visual cloud reports from land and ocean regions of the Arctic are analyzed for total cloud cover. Trends and interannual variations in surface cloud data are compared to those obtained from Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) and Television and Infrared Observation Satellite (TIROS) Operational Vertical Sounder (TOVS) satellite data. Over the Arctic as a whole, trends and interannual variations show little agreement with those from satellite data. The interannual variations from AVHRR are larger in the dark seasons than in the sunlit seasons (6% in winter, 2% in summer); however, in the surface observations, the interannual variations for all seasons are only 1%–2%. A large negative trend for winter found in the AVHRR data is not seen in the surface data. At smaller geographic scales, time series of surface- and satellite-observed cloud cover show some agreement except over sea ice during winter. During the winter months, time series of satellite-observed clouds in numerous grid boxes show variations that are strangely coherent throughout the entire Arctic.

Corresponding author address: Ryan Eastman, Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Washington, Box 351640, Seattle, WA 98195-1640. Email: rmeast@atmos.washington.edu

Abstract

Visual cloud reports from land and ocean regions of the Arctic are analyzed for total cloud cover. Trends and interannual variations in surface cloud data are compared to those obtained from Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) and Television and Infrared Observation Satellite (TIROS) Operational Vertical Sounder (TOVS) satellite data. Over the Arctic as a whole, trends and interannual variations show little agreement with those from satellite data. The interannual variations from AVHRR are larger in the dark seasons than in the sunlit seasons (6% in winter, 2% in summer); however, in the surface observations, the interannual variations for all seasons are only 1%–2%. A large negative trend for winter found in the AVHRR data is not seen in the surface data. At smaller geographic scales, time series of surface- and satellite-observed cloud cover show some agreement except over sea ice during winter. During the winter months, time series of satellite-observed clouds in numerous grid boxes show variations that are strangely coherent throughout the entire Arctic.

Corresponding author address: Ryan Eastman, Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Washington, Box 351640, Seattle, WA 98195-1640. Email: rmeast@atmos.washington.edu

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