Clouds are important to climate and climate trends. To determine trends in cloud-base heights and cloud-top heights, the Comprehensive Aerological Reference Data Set (CARDS) and the method of Chernykh and Eskridge are used to diagnose cloud base, top, and amount. Trends in time series of cloud bases and tops at 795 radiosonde stations from 1964 to 1998 are presented.

It was found that trends in cloud-base height and cloud-top height are seasonally dependent and a function of cloud cover amount. There was a small increase in multilayer cloudiness in all seasons. Geographical distributions of decadal changes of cloud bases and tops were spatially nonuniform and depended upon the season.

To estimate the errors made in calculating the heights of cloud boundaries, an analysis was made of the response of the thermistors and hygristors. Thermistors and hygristors are linear sensors of the first order. From this it is shown that the distance between calculated inflection points (cloud boundaries) of observed and true values is exactly equal to the time constant of the sensor times the balloon speed. More accurate cloud boundaries can be determined using this finding.

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Footnotes

*Russian Research Institute of Hydrometeorological Information, Obninsk, Russia.

+National Climatic Data Center, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Asheville, North Carolina.