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Rong Fu
,
Anthony D. Del Genio
, and
William B. Rossow

Abstract

The authors analyze the influence of sea surface temperature (SST) and surface wind divergence on atmospheric thermodynamic structure and the resulting effects on the occurrence of deep convection using National Meteorological Center radiosonde data and International Satellite Cloud Climatology Program data for July 1983–July 1985. The onset of deep convection requires not only the existence of positive convective available potential energy (CAPE), but also an unstable planetary boundary layer (PBL). A stable PBL is observed to suppress deep convection even when CAPE is positive. Variations of SST have a major effect on CAPE, but surface wind divergence can also affect deep convection by changing the lapse rate in the lower troposphere and humidity in the PBL. Specifically, when SST≥28°C, CAPE is always positive, and surface wind divergence does not qualitatively change the buoyancy profile above the PBL. Strong surface wind divergence, however, stabilizes the PBL so as to suppress the initiation of deep convection. In warm SST regions, CAPE>0 regardless of assumptions about condensate loading, although the pseudoadiabatic limit is more consistent with the observed deep convection than the reversible moist-adiabatic limit under these circumstances. When SST<27°C, CAPE is usually negative and inhibits convection, but strong surface wind convergence can destabilize the inversion layer and moisten the PBL enough to make the atmosphere neutrally stable in the mean. As a result, deep convection is generally enhanced either when SST≥28°C in the absence of strong surface wind divergence or when strong surface wind convergence occurs even if SST<27°C. The anomalous suppression of deep convection in the warm area of the equatorial west Pacific lying between the ITCZ and SPCZ is probably caused by dryness in the PBL and an inversion in that area.

The seasonal cycles of deep convection and surface wind divergence are in phase with the maximum solar radiation and lead SST for one to three months in the central Pacific. The change of PBL relative humidity plays a critical role in the changeover to convective instability in this case. The seasonal change of deep convection and associated clouds seems not to have important effects on the seasonal change of local SST in the central Pacific.

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Catherine M. Naud
,
Anthony D. Del Genio
,
Mike Bauer
, and
William Kovari

Abstract

Cloud vertical distributions across extratropical warm and cold fronts are obtained using two consecutive winters of CloudSat–Cloud–Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observation (CALIPSO) observations and National Centers for Environmental Prediction reanalysis atmospheric state parameters over the Northern and Southern Hemisphere oceans (30°–70°N/S) between November 2006 and September 2008. These distributions generally resemble those from the original model introduced by the Bergen School in the 1920s, with the following exceptions: 1) substantial low cloudiness, which is present behind and ahead of the warm and cold fronts; 2) ubiquitous high cloudiness, some of it very thin, throughout the warm-frontal region; and 3) upright convective cloudiness near and behind some warm fronts. One winter of GISS general circulation model simulations of Northern and Southern Hemisphere warm and cold fronts at 2° × 2.5° × 32 levels resolution gives similar cloud distributions but with much lower cloud fraction, a shallower depth of cloudiness, and a shorter extent of tilted warm-frontal cloud cover on the cold air side of the surface frontal position. A close examination of the relationship between the cloudiness and relative humidity fields indicates that water vapor is not lifted enough in modeled midlatitude cyclones and this is related to weak vertical velocities in the model. The model also produces too little cloudiness for a given value of vertical velocity or relative humidity. For global climate models run at scales coarser than tens of kilometers, the authors suggest that the current underestimate of modeled cloud cover in the storm track regions, and in particular the 50°–60°S band of the Southern Oceans, could be reduced with the implementation of a slantwise convection parameterization.

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Anthony D. Del Genio
,
Yonghua Chen
,
Daehyun Kim
, and
Mao-Sung Yao

Abstract

The relationship between convective penetration depth and tropospheric humidity is central to recent theories of the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO). It has been suggested that general circulation models (GCMs) poorly simulate the MJO because they fail to gradually moisten the troposphere by shallow convection and simulate a slow transition to deep convection. CloudSat and Cloud–Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observations (CALIPSO) data are analyzed to document the variability of convection depth and its relation to water vapor during the MJO transition from shallow to deep convection and to constrain GCM cumulus parameterizations. Composites of cloud occurrence for 10 MJO events show the following anticipated MJO cloud structure: shallow and congestus clouds in advance of the peak, deep clouds near the peak, and upper-level anvils after the peak. Cirrus clouds are also frequent in advance of the peak. The Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer for Earth Observing System (EOS) (AMSR-E) column water vapor (CWV) increases by ~5 mm during the shallow–deep transition phase, consistent with the idea of moisture preconditioning. Echo-top height of clouds rooted in the boundary layer increases sharply with CWV, with large variability in depth when CWV is between ~46 and 68 mm. International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project cloud classifications reproduce these climatological relationships but correctly identify congestus-dominated scenes only about half the time. A version of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies Model E2 (GISS-E2) GCM with strengthened entrainment and rain evaporation that produces MJO-like variability also reproduces the shallow–deep convection transition, including the large variability of cloud-top height at intermediate CWV values. The variability is due to small grid-scale relative humidity and lapse rate anomalies for similar values of CWV.

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Catherine M. Naud
,
James F. Booth
, and
Anthony D. Del Genio

Abstract

Using NASA Aqua MODIS and AIRS data, the relationship between low-level cloud cover (cloud top below the 700-hPa level) and boundary layer stability is explored in post-cold-frontal conditions. A linear relationship is found between seasonal cloud cover and two separate measures of inversion strength, the lower-tropospheric stability (LTS) and the estimated inversion strength (EIS), for two specific regions in the North Atlantic and Pacific in quiescent and weakly subsiding conditions. The relationship barely changes when considering dynamically active and subsiding post-cold-frontal conditions for the same regions. To explore the generality of this result and increase sample size, cold-front-centered composites of cloud cover and stability are constructed. The Northern and Southern Hemisphere seasonal cloud cover and stability distributions in the post-cold-frontal regions are then compared. A fairly good correlation between cloud cover and EIS is found in both hemispheres across all seasons, suggesting that a linear relationship between cloud cover and inversion strength proposed for quiescent conditions exists also in more dynamically active subsiding post-cold-frontal conditions. However, for a given season and hemisphere, the correlation between cloud cover and EIS degrades in post-cold-frontal regions, especially in the Northern Hemisphere. At these scales, other large-scale factors tend to correlate better with cloud cover.

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Rong Fu
,
Anthony D. Del Genio
, and
William B. Rossow

Abstract

We analyze the properties of deep convection over the equatorial Pacific and its relationship to sea surface temperature (SST) and surface wind divergence using ISCCP radiance data for July 1983 and January 1984. Deep convective clouds (DCC) are diagnosed with both a combined visible-infrared threshold method and an infrared-only threshold method. The visible channel is important in diagnosing deep convection in different regions with different surface and atmospheric properties because of the existence of large-scale variations of DCC top altitudes.

The ITCZ and SPCZ exhibit changes in these two months that are characteristic of both the El Niño and seasonal cycles. Deep convection is latitudinally confined to a much smaller spatial scale than that suggested by maps of outgoing longwave radiation. Diurnal variations of DCC cover and associated mesoscale cirrus/anvil cloud (CAC) cover are out of phase, with deep convection peaking in the early morning throughout the equatorial Pacific. The diurnal cycle is strongest in the west Pacific and Indonesia, where deep convection is most intense. DCC top temperatures are at a minimum several hours before the maximum in DCC cover and out of phase with CAC top temperatures.

Two types of relationships between deep convection, SST, and surface wind convergence are suggested: 1) When a large area within a region is covered by SSTs greater than 28°C, deep convection is enhanced in areas where SST exceeds 28°C in the absence of strong surface divergence. Strong monthly mean surface convergence does not enhance deep convection in this case. 2) When the warmest SSTs in a region are less than about 28°C, deep convection is significantly enhanced by strong surface wind convergence near the local maximum in SST (26°–28°). An analysis of a slightly different version of the ISCCP data for the period July 1983-July 1985 suggests that the first type of relationship is the typical situation in the west Pacific, while the second relationship is most obvious in non-El Niño northern winters in the east Pacific. DCC top height generally increases as SST increases, but the visible reflectance of DCC does not vary strongly with SST.

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James F. Booth
,
Catherine M. Naud
, and
Anthony D. Del Genio

Abstract

This study analyzes characteristics of clouds and vertical motion across extratropical cyclone warm fronts in the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies general circulation model. The validity of the modeled clouds is assessed using a combination of satellite observations from CloudSat, Cloud–Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observations (CALIPSO), Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer for Earth Observing System (AMSR-E), and the NASA Modern-Era Retrospective Analysis for Research and Applications (MERRA) reanalysis. The analysis focuses on developing cyclones, to test the model's ability to generate their initial structure. To begin, the extratropical cyclones and their warm fronts are objectively identified and cyclone-local fields are mapped into a vertical transect centered on the surface warm front. To further isolate specific physics, the cyclones are separated using conditional subsetting based on additional cyclone-local variables, and the differences between the subset means are analyzed. Conditional subsets are created based on 1) the transect clouds and 2) vertical motion; 3) the strength of the temperature gradient along the warm front, as well as the storm-local 4) wind speed and 5) precipitable water (PW). The analysis shows that the model does not generate enough frontal cloud, especially at low altitude. The subsetting results reveal that, compared to the observations, the model exhibits a decoupling between cloud formation at high and low altitudes across warm fronts and a weak sensitivity to moisture. These issues are caused in part by the parameterized convection and assumptions in the stratiform cloud scheme that are valid in the subtropics. On the other hand, the model generates proper covariability of low-altitude vertical motion and cloud at the warm front and a joint dependence of cloudiness on wind and PW.

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Catherine M. Naud
,
James F. Booth
, and
Anthony D. Del Genio

Abstract

The Southern Ocean cloud cover modeled by the Interim ECMWF Re-Analysis (ERA-Interim) and Modern-Era Retrospective Analysis for Research and Applications (MERRA) reanalyses are compared against Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) and Multiangle Imaging Spectroradiometer (MISR) observations. ERA-Interim monthly mean cloud amounts match the observations within 5%, while MERRA significantly underestimates the cloud amount. For a compositing analysis of clouds in warm season extratropical cyclones, both reanalyses show a low bias in cloud cover. They display a larger bias to the west of the cyclones in the region of subsidence behind the cold fronts. This low bias is larger for MERRA than for ERA-Interim. Both MODIS and MISR retrievals indicate that the clouds in this sector are at a low altitude, often composed of liquid, and of a broken nature. The combined CloudSatCloud–Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observations (CALIPSO) cloud profiles confirm these passive observations, but they also reveal that low-level clouds in other parts of the cyclones are also not properly represented in the reanalyses. The two reanalyses are in fairly good agreement for the dynamic and thermodynamic characteristics of the cyclones, suggesting that the cloud, convection, or boundary layer schemes are the problem instead. An examination of the lower-tropospheric stability distribution in the cyclones from both reanalyses suggests that the parameterization of shallow cumulus clouds may contribute in a large part to the problem. However, the differences in the cloud schemes and in particular in the precipitation processes, which may also contribute, cannot be excluded.

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Anthony D. Del Genio
,
Yonghua Chen
,
Daehyun Kim
, and
Mao-Sung Yao
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Kirstie Stramler
,
Anthony D. Del Genio
, and
William B. Rossow

Abstract

The dense network of the Surface Heat Budget of the Arctic (SHEBA) observations is used to assess relationships between winter surface and atmospheric variables as the SHEBA site came under the influence of cyclonic and anticyclonic atmospheric circulation systems. Two distinct and preferred states of subsurface, surface, atmosphere, and clouds occur during the SHEBA winter, extending from the oceanic mixed layer through the troposphere and preceded by same-sign variations in the stratosphere. These states are apparent in distributions of surface temperature, sensible heat and longwave radiation fluxes, ocean heat conduction, cloud-base height and temperature, and in the atmospheric humidity and temperature structure.

Surface and atmosphere are in radiative–turbulent–conductive near-equilibrium during a warm opaquely cloudy-sky state, which persists up to 10 days and usually occurs during the low surface pressure phase of a baroclinic wave, although occasionally occurs during the high surface pressure phase because of low, scattered clouds. Clouds occurring in this state have near-unity emissivity and the lowest bases in the vicinity of, or below, the temperature inversion peak. A cold radiatively clear-sky state persists up to two weeks, and occurs only in the high surface pressure phase of a baroclinic wave. The radiatively clear state has clouds that are too tenuous when surface based or, irrespective of opacity, located too far aloft to contribute significantly to the surface energy budget. There is a 13-K surface temperature difference between the two states, and atmospheric inversion peak temperatures are linearly related to the surface temperature in both states. The snow–sea ice interface temperature oscillates over the course of the winter season, as it cools during the radiatively clear state and is warmed from atmospheric emission above and ocean heat conduction from below during the opaquely cloudy state.

Analysis of satellite data over the Arctic from 70°–90°N indicates that the radiatively clear and opaquely cloudy states observed at SHEBA may be representative of the entire Arctic basin. The results suggest that model formulation inadequacies should be easier to diagnose if modeled energy transfers are compared with observations using process-based metrics that acknowledge the bimodal nature of the Arctic ocean–ice–snow–atmosphere column, rather than monthly and regionally averaged quantities. Climate change projections of thinner Arctic sea ice and larger advective water vapor influxes into the Arctic could yield different frequencies of occupation of the radiatively clear and opaquely cloudy states and higher wintertime temperatures of SHEBA ocean, ice, snow, atmosphere, and clouds—in particular, a wintertime warming of the snow–sea ice interface temperature.

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Aiguo Dai
,
Inez Y. Fung
, and
Anthony D. Del Genio

Abstract

The authors have analyzed global station data and created a gridded dataset of monthly precipitation for the period of 1900–88. Statistical analyses suggest that discontinuities associated with instrumental errors are large for many high-latitude station records, although they are unlikely to be significant for the majority of the stations. The first leading EOF in global precipitation fields is an ENSO-related pattern, concentrating mostly in the low latitudes. The second leading EOF depicts a linear increasing trend (∼2.4 mm decade−1) in global precipitation fields during the period of 1900–88. Consistent with the zonal precipitation trends identified in previous analyses, the EOF trend is seen as a long-term increase mostly in North America, mid- to high-latitude Eurasia, Argentina, and Australia. The spatial patterns of the trend EOF and the rate of increase are generally consistent with those of the precipitation changes in increasing CO2 GCM experiments.

The North Atlantic oscillation (NAO) accounts for ∼10% of December–February precipitation variance over North Atlantic surrounding regions. The mode suggests that during high-NAO-index winters, precipitation is above normal in northern (>50°N) Europe, the eastern United States, northern Africa, and the Mediterranean, while below-normal precipitation occurs in southern Europe, eastern Canada, and western Greenland.

Wet and dry months of one standard deviation occur at probabilities close to those of a normal distribution in midlatitudes. In the subtropics, the mean interval between two extreme events is longer. The monthly wet and dry events seldom (probability < 5%) last longer than 2 months. ENSO is the single largest cause of global extreme precipitation events. Consistent with the upward trend in global precipitation, globally, the averaged mean interval between two dry months increased by ∼28% from 1900–44 to 1945–88. The percentage of wet areas over the United States has more than doubled (from ∼12% to >24%) since the 1970s, while the percentage of dry areas has decreased by a similar amount since the 1940s. Severe droughts and floods comparable to the 1988 drought and 1993 flood in the Midwest have occurred 2–9 times in each of several other regions of the world during this century.

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