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Syed Ismail, Richard A. Ferrare, Edward V. Browell, Gao Chen, Bruce Anderson, Susan A. Kooi, Anthony Notari, Carolyn F. Butler, Sharon Burton, Marta Fenn, Jason P. Dunion, Gerry Heymsfield, T. N. Krishnamurti, and Mrinal K. Biswas


The Lidar Atmospheric Sensing Experiment (LASE) on board the NASA DC-8 measured high-resolution profiles of water vapor and aerosols, and cloud distributions in 14 flights over the eastern North Atlantic during the NASA African Monsoon Multidisciplinary Analyses (NAMMA) field experiment. These measurements were used to study African easterly waves (AEWs), tropical cyclones (TCs), and the Saharan air layer (SAL). These LASE measurements represent the first simultaneous water vapor and aerosol lidar measurements to study the SAL and its interactions with AEWs and TCs. Three case studies were selected for detailed analysis: (i) a stratified SAL, with fine structure and layering (unlike a well-mixed SAL), (ii) a SAL with high relative humidity (RH), and (iii) an AEW surrounded by SAL dry air intrusions. Profile measurements of aerosol scattering ratios, aerosol extinction coefficients, aerosol optical thickness, water vapor mixing ratios, RH, and temperature are presented to illustrate their characteristics in the SAL, convection, and clear air regions. LASE extinction-to-backscatter ratios for the dust layers varied from 35 ± 5 to 45 ± 5 sr, well within the range of values determined by other lidar systems. LASE aerosol extinction and water vapor profiles are validated by comparison with onboard in situ aerosol measurements and GPS dropsonde water vapor soundings, respectively. An analysis of LASE data suggests that the SAL suppresses low-altitude convection. Midlevel convection associated with the AEW and transport are likely responsible for high water vapor content observed in the southern regions of the SAL on 20 August 2008. This interaction is responsible for the transfer of about 7 × 1015 J (or 8 × 103 J m−2) latent heat energy within a day to the SAL. Initial modeling studies that used LASE water vapor profiles show sensitivity to and improvements in model forecasts of an AEW.

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