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M. Christian Schwartz, Virendra P. Ghate, Bruce. A. Albrecht, Paquita Zuidema, Maria P. Cadeddu, Jothiram Vivekanandan, Scott M. Ellis, Pei Tsai, Edwin W. Eloranta, Johannes Mohrmann, Robert Wood, and Christopher S. Bretherton


The Cloud System Evolution in the Trades (CSET) aircraft campaign was conducted in the summer of 2015 in the northeast Pacific to observe the transition from stratocumulus to cumulus cloud regime. Fourteen transects were made between Sacramento, California, and Kona, Hawaii, using the NCAR’s High-Performance Instrumented Airborne Platform for Environmental Research (HIAPER) Gulfstream V (GV) aircraft. The HIAPER W-band Doppler cloud radar (HCR) and the high-spectral-resolution lidar (HSRL), in their first deployment together on board the GV, provided crucial cloud and precipitation observations. The HCR recorded the raw in-phase (I) and quadrature (Q) components of the digitized signal, from which the Doppler spectra and its first three moments were calculated. HCR/HSRL data were merged to develop a hydrometeor mask on a uniform georeferenced grid of 2-Hz temporal and 20-m vertical resolutions. The hydrometeors are classified as cloud or precipitation using a simple fuzzy logic technique based on the HCR mean Doppler velocity, HSRL backscatter, and the ratio of HCR reflectivity to HSRL backscatter. This is primarily applied during zenith-pointing conditions under which the lidar can detect the cloud base and the radar is more sensitive to clouds. The microphysical properties of below-cloud drizzle and optically thin clouds were retrieved using the HCR reflectivity, HSRL backscatter, and the HCR Doppler spectrum width after it is corrected for the aircraft speed. These indicate that as the boundary layers deepen and cloud-top heights increase toward the equator, both the cloud and rain fractions decrease.

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