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Christopher W. Fairall and Richard E. Carbone
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Efthymios Serpetzoglou, Bruce A. Albrecht, Pavlos Kollias, and Christopher W. Fairall

Abstract

The southeast Pacific stratocumulus regime is an important component of the earth’s climate system because of its substantial impact on albedo. Observational studies of this cloud regime have been limited, but during the past 5 yr, a series of cruises with research vessels equipped with in situ and remote sensing systems have provided unprecedented observations of boundary layer cloud and drizzle structures. These cruises started with the East Pacific Investigation of Climate (EPIC) 2001 field experiment, followed by cruises in a similar area in 2003 and 2004 [Pan-American Climate Studies (PACS) Stratus cruises]. The sampling from these three cruises provides a sufficient dataset to study the variability occurring over this region. This study compares observations from the 2004 cruise with those obtained during the previous two cruises. Observations from the ship provide information about boundary layer structure, fractional cloudiness, cloud depth, and drizzle characteristics. This study indicates more strongly decoupled boundary layers during the 2004 cruise than the well-mixed conditions that dominated the cloud and boundary layer structures during the EPIC cruise, and the highly variable conditions—sharp transitions from a solid stratus deck to broken-cloud and clear-sky periods—encountered during PACS Stratus 2003. Diurnal forcing and synoptic conditions are considered to be factors affecting these variations. A statistical evaluation of the macrophysical boundary layer, cloud, and drizzle properties is performed using the 5–6-day periods for which the research vessels remained stationed at the location of 20°S, 85°W during each cruise.

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Simon P. de Szoeke, James B. Edson, June R. Marion, Christopher W. Fairall, and Ludovic Bariteau

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Dynamics of the Madden–Julian Oscillation (DYNAMO) and Tropical Ocean and Global Atmosphere Coupled Ocean–Atmosphere Response Experiment (TOGA COARE) observations and reanalysis-based surface flux products are used to test theories of atmosphere–ocean interaction that explain the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO). Negative intraseasonal outgoing longwave radiation, indicating deep convective clouds, is in phase with increased surface wind stress, decreased solar heating, and increased surface turbulent heat flux—mostly evaporation—from the ocean to the atmosphere. Net heat flux cools the upper ocean in the convective phase. Sea surface temperature (SST) warms during the suppressed phase, reaching a maximum before the onset of MJO convection. The timing of convection, surface flux, and SST is consistent from the central Indian Ocean (70°E) to the western Pacific Ocean (160°E).

Mean surface evaporation observed in TOGA COARE and DYNAMO (110 W m−2) accounts for about half of the moisture supply for the mean precipitation (210 W m−2 for DYNAMO). Precipitation maxima are an order of magnitude larger than evaporation anomalies, requiring moisture convergence in the mean, and on intraseasonal and daily time scales. Column-integrated moisture increases 2 cm before the convectively active phase over the Research Vessel (R/V) Roger Revelle in DYNAMO, in accordance with MJO moisture recharge theory. Local surface evaporation does not significantly recharge the column water budget before convection. As suggested in moisture mode theories, evaporation increases the moist static energy of the column during convection. Rather than simply discharging moisture from the column, the strongest daily precipitation anomalies in the convectively active phase accompany the increasing column moisture.

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Edgar L. Andreas, Christopher W. Fairall, P. Ola G. Persson, and Peter S. Guest

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Defining the averaging time required for measuring meaningful turbulence statistics is a central problem in boundary layer meteorology. Path-averaging scintillation instruments are presumed to confer some time-averaging benefits when the objective is to measure surface fluxes, but that hypothesis has not been tested definitively. This study uses scintillometer measurements of the inner scale (l 0) and the refractive index structure parameter (C2n) to investigate this question of required averaging time. The first conclusion is that the beta probability distribution is useful for representing C2n and l 0 measurements. Consequently, beta distributions are used to set confidence limits on C2n and l 0 values obtained over various averaging periods. When the C2n and l 0 time series are stationary, a short-term average of C2n or l 0 can be as accurate as a long-term average. However, as with point measurements, when time series of path averaged C2n or l 0 values are nonstationary, turbulent surface fluxes inferred from these C2n and l 0 values can be variable and uncertain—problems that path averaging was presumed to mitigate. Because nonstationarity is a limiting condition, the last topic is quantifying the nonstationarity with a published nonstationarity ratio and also by simply counting zero crossings in the time series.

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Meghan F. Cronin, Nicholas A. Bond, Christopher W. Fairall, and Robert A. Weller

Abstract

Data from the Eastern Pacific Investigation of Climate Studies (EPIC) mooring array are used to evaluate the annual cycle of surface cloud forcing in the far eastern Pacific stratus cloud deck/cold tongue/intertropical convergence zone complex. Data include downwelling surface solar and longwave radiation from 10 EPIC-enhanced Tropical Atmosphere Ocean (TAO) moorings from 8°S, 95°W to 12°N, 95°W, and the Woods Hole Improved Meteorology (IMET) mooring in the stratus cloud deck region at 20°S, 85°W. Surface cloud forcing is defined as the observed downwelling radiation at the surface minus the clear-sky value. Solar cloud forcing and longwave cloud forcing are anticorrelated at all latitudes from 12°N to 20°S: clouds tended to reduce the downward solar radiation and to a lesser extent increase the downward longwave radiation at the surface. The relative amount of solar radiation reduction and longwave increase depends upon cloud type and varies with latitude. A statistical relationship between solar and longwave surface cloud forcing is developed for rainy and dry periods and for the full record length in six latitudinal regions: northeast tropical warm pool, ITCZ, frontal zone, cold tongue, southern, and stratus deck regions. The buoy cloud forcing observations and empirical relations are compared with the International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project (ISCCP) radiative flux data (FD) dataset and are used as benchmarks to evaluate surface cloud forcing in the NCEP Reanalysis 2 (NCEP2) and 40-yr ECMWF Re-Analysis (ERA-40). ERA-40 and NCEP2 cloud forcing (both solar and longwave) showed large discrepancies with observations, being too large in the ITCZ and equatorial regions and too weak under the stratus deck at 20°S and north to the equator during the cool season from July to December. In particular the NCEP2 cloud forcing at the equator was nearly identical to the ITCZ region and thus had significantly larger solar cloud forcing and smaller longwave cloud forcing than observed. The net result of the solar and longwave cloud forcing deviations is that there is too little radiative warming in the ITCZ and southward to 8°S during the warm season and too much radiative warming under the stratus deck at 20°S and northward to the equator during the cold season.

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Simon P. de Szoeke, Christopher W. Fairall, Daniel E. Wolfe, Ludovic Bariteau, and Paquita Zuidema

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A new dataset synthesizes in situ and remote sensing observations from research ships deployed to the southeastern tropical Pacific stratocumulus region for 7 years in boreal fall. Surface meteorology, turbulent and radiative fluxes, aerosols, cloud properties, and rawinsonde profiles were measured on nine ship transects along 20°S from 75° to 85°W. Fluxes at the ocean surface are essential to the equilibrium SST. Solar radiation is the only warming net heat flux, with 180–200 W m−2 in boreal fall. The strongest cooling is evaporation (60–100 W m−2), followed by net thermal infrared radiation (30 W m−2) and sensible heat flux (<10 W m−2). The 70 W m−2 imbalance of heating at the surface reflects the seasonal SST tendency and some 30 W m−2 cooling that is mostly due to ocean transport.

Coupled models simulate significant SST errors in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean. Three different observation-based gridded ocean surface flux products agree with ship and buoy observations, while fluxes simulated by 15 Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 3 [CMIP3; used for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report] general circulation models have relatively large errors. This suggests the gridded observation-based flux datasets are sufficiently accurate for verifying coupled models. Longwave cooling and solar warming are correlated among model simulations, consistent with cloud radiative forcing and low cloud amount differences. In those simulations with excessive solar heating, elevated SST also results in larger evaporation and longwave cooling to compensate for the solar excess. Excessive turbulent heat fluxes (10–90 W m−2 cooling, mostly evaporation) are the largest errors in simulations once the compensation between solar and longwave radiation is taken into account. In addition to excessive solar warming and evaporation, models simulate too little oceanic residual cooling in the southeastern tropical Pacific Ocean.

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Gary A. Wick, J. Carter Ohlmann, Christopher W. Fairall, and Andrew T. Jessup

Abstract

The oceanic near-surface temperature profile must be accurately characterized to enable precise determination of air–sea heat exchange and satellite retrievals of sea surface temperature. An improved solar transmission parameterization is integrated into existing models for the oceanic warm layer and cool skin within the Tropical Ocean and Global Atmosphere Coupled Ocean–Atmosphere Response Experiment (TOGA COARE) bulk flux model to improve the accuracy of predictions of the temperature profile and corresponding heat flux components. Application of the revised bulk flux model to data from 12 diverse cruises demonstrates that the improved parameterization results in significant changes to the predicted cool-skin effect and latent heat fluxes at low wind speeds with high solar radiation due to reduced absorption of solar radiation just below the surface. Daytime skin-layer cooling is predicted to increase by 0.03 K on average but by more than 0.25 K for winds below 1 m s−1 and surface irradiance exceeding 900 W m−2. Predicted changes to the warm-layer correction were smaller but exceeded 0.1 K below 1 m s−1. Average latent and sensible heat fluxes changed by 1 W m−2, but the latent flux decreased by 5 W m−2 near winds of 0.5 m s−1 and surface irradiance of 950 W m−2. Comparison with direct observations of skin-layer cooling demonstrated, in particular, that use of the improved solar transmission model resulted in the reduction of previous systematic overestimates of diurnal skin-layer warming. Similar results can be achieved using a simplified treatment of solar absorption with an appropriate estimate of the fraction of incident solar radiation absorbed within the skin layer.

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Ge Peng, Lei Shi, Steve T. Stegall, Jessica L. Matthews, and Christopher W. Fairall

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The accuracy of cloud-screened 2-m air temperatures derived from the intersatellite-calibrated brightness temperatures based on the High Resolution Infrared Radiation Sounder (HIRS) measurements on board the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Polar-Orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite (POES) series is evaluated by comparing HIRS air temperatures to 1-yr quality-controlled measurements collected during the Surface Heat Budget of the Arctic Ocean (SHEBA) project (October 1997–September 1998). The mean error between collocated HIRS and SHEBA 2-m air temperature is found to be on the order of 1°C, with a slight sensitivity to spatial and temporal radii for collocation. The HIRS temperatures capture well the temporal variability of SHEBA temperatures, with cross-correlation coefficients higher than 0.93, all significant at the 99.9% confidence level. More than 87% of SHEBA temperature variance can be explained by linear regression of collocated HIRS temperatures. The analysis found a strong dependency of mean temperature errors on cloud conditions observed during SHEBA, indicating that availability of an accurate cloud mask in the region is essential to further improve the quality of HIRS near-surface air temperature products. This evaluation establishes a baseline of accuracy of HIRS temperature retrievals, providing users with information on uncertainty sources and estimates. It is a first step toward development of a new long-term 2-m air temperature product in the Arctic that utilizes intersatellite-calibrated remote sensing data from the HIRS instrument.

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Virendra P. Ghate, Mark A. Miller, Bruce A. Albrecht, and Christopher W. Fairall

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Stratocumulus-topped boundary layers (STBLs) observed in three different regions are described in the context of their thermodynamic and radiative properties. The primary dataset consists of 131 soundings from the southeastern Pacific (SEP), 90 soundings from the island of Graciosa (GRW) in the North Atlantic, and 83 soundings from the U.S. Southern Great Plains (SGP). A new technique that makes an attempt to preserve the depths of the sublayers within an STBL is proposed for averaging the profiles of thermodynamic and radiative variables. A one-dimensional radiative transfer model known as the Rapid Radiative Transfer Model was used to compute the radiative fluxes within the STBL. The SEP STBLs were characterized by a stronger and deeper inversion, together with thicker clouds, lower free-tropospheric moisture, and higher radiative flux divergence across the cloud layer, as compared to the GRW STBLs. Compared to the STBLs over the marine locations, the STBLs over SGP had higher wind shear and a negligible (−0.41 g kg−1) jump in mixing ratio across the inversion. Despite the differences in many of the STBL thermodynamic parameters, the differences in liquid water path at the three locations were statistically insignificant. The soundings were further classified as well mixed or decoupled based on the difference between the surface and cloud-base virtual potential temperature. The decoupled STBLs were deeper than the well-mixed STBLs at all three locations. Statistically insignificant differences in surface latent heat flux (LHF) between well-mixed and decoupled STBLs suggest that parameters other than LHF are responsible for producing decoupling.

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Virendra P. Ghate, Bruce A. Albrecht, Mark A. Miller, Alan Brewer, and Christopher W. Fairall

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Observations made during a 24-h period as part of the Variability of the American Monsoon Systems (VAMOS) Ocean–Cloud–Atmosphere–Land Study Regional Experiment (VOCALS-REx) are analyzed to study the radiation and turbulence associated with the stratocumulus-topped marine boundary layer (BL). The first 14 h exhibited a well-mixed (coupled) BL with an average cloud-top radiative flux divergence of ~130 W m−2; the BL was decoupled during the last 10 h with negligible radiative flux divergence. The averaged radiative cooling very close to the cloud top was −9.04 K h−1 in coupled conditions and −3.85 K h−1 in decoupled conditions. This is the first study that combined data from a vertically pointing Doppler cloud radar and a Doppler lidar to yield the vertical velocity structure of the entire BL. The averaged vertical velocity variance and updraft mass flux during coupled conditions were higher than those during decoupled conditions at all levels by a factor of 2 or more. The vertical velocity skewness was negative in the entire BL during coupled conditions, whereas it was weakly positive in the lower third of the BL and negative above during decoupled conditions. A formulation of velocity scale is proposed that includes the effect of cloud-top radiative cooling in addition to the surface buoyancy flux. When scaled by the velocity scale, the vertical velocity variance and coherent downdrafts had similar magnitude during the coupled and decoupled conditions. The coherent updrafts that exhibited a constant profile in the entire BL during both the coupled and decoupled conditions scaled well with the convective velocity scale to a value of ~0.5.

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