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Ewan J. O’Connor, Robin J. Hogan, and Anthony J. Illingworth

Abstract

Stratocumulus is one of the most common cloud types globally, with a profound effect on the earth’s radiation budget, and the drizzle process is fundamental in understanding the evolution of these boundary layer clouds. In this paper a combination of 94-GHz Doppler radar and backscatter lidar is used to investigate the microphysical properties of drizzle falling below the base of stratocumulus clouds. The ratio of the radar to lidar backscatter power is proportional to the fourth power of mean size, and so potentially it can provide an accurate size estimate. Information about the shape of the drop size distribution is then inferred from the Doppler spectral width. The algorithm estimates vertical profiles of drizzle parameters such as liquid water content, liquid water flux, and vertical air velocity, assuming that the drizzle size spectrum may be represented by a gamma distribution. The depletion time scale of cloud liquid water through the drizzle process can be estimated when the liquid water path of the cloud is available from microwave radiometers, and observations suggest that this time scale varies from a few days in light drizzle to a few hours in strong drizzle events. Radar and lidar observations from Chilbolton (in southern England) and aircraft size spectra taken during the Atlantic Stratocumulus Transition Experiment have both been used to derive the following power-law relationship between liquid water flux (LWF) (g m−2 s−1) and radar reflectivity (Z) (mm6 m−3): LWF = 0.0093Z 0.69. This relation is valid for frequencies up to 94 GHz and therefore would allow a forthcoming spaceborne radar to measure liquid water flux around the globe to within a factor of 2 for values of Z above −20 dBZ.

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Ewan J. O'Connor, Anthony J. Illingworth, and Robin J. Hogan

Abstract

In this paper a technique for autocalibration of a cloud lidar is demonstrated. It is shown that the lidar extinction-to-backscatter ratio derived from integrated backscatter for stratocumulus is, in the absence of drizzle, constrained to a theoretical value of 18.8 ± 0.8 sr at a wavelength of 905 nm. The lidar can be calibrated by scaling the backscatter signal so that the observed lidar ratio matches the theoretical value when suitable conditions of stratocumulus are available. For a beam divergence of 1–1.5 mrad, multiple scattering introduces an uncertainty of about 10% into the calibration and for a narrow-beam ground-based lidar, with negligible multiple scattering, calibration may be possible to better than 5%. Some examples of the mean lidar ratio of supercooled liquid water layers and ice clouds inferred using this technique are also shown.

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Robin J. Hogan, Dominique Bouniol, Darcy N. Ladd, Ewan J. O'Connor, and Anthony J. Illingworth

Abstract

Absolute calibration of cloud radars is very difficult. A new method is proposed for 94/95-GHz radars that exploits the fact that at this frequency, the radar reflectivity factor of rain measured at a range of 250 m is approximately constant at 19 dBZ for rain rates between 3 and 10 mm h–1, due to the combined effects of extinction and non-Rayleigh scattering. The standard deviation of around 1.5 dB is due to natural variations in the number concentration of drops and is consistent with the variation predicted from theory, but averaging over a number of different rain events over a month or more should be sufficient to reduce the calibration error to less than 1 dB. A thin layer of rainwater on the radomes of the 94-GHz radar at Chilbolton, in southern England, was found to cause a two-way attenuation of between 9 and 14 dB, but it is shown here that the technique may be successfully implemented by operating the radar at a low elevation angle and employing a shelter to keep it dry. Most 94-GHz cloud radars worldwide use the same amplifier, and monitoring the calibration of this radar over a 2-yr period of continuous use reveals a loss of power of around 1 dB in the first year and 10 dB in the second. Frequent calibration is therefore recommended.

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Minttu Tuononen, Ewan J. O’Connor, Victoria A. Sinclair, and Ville Vakkari

Abstract

Over two years of meteorological observations from Utö, a small island in the Finnish outer archipelago in the Baltic Sea, were used to investigate the occurrence and characteristics of low-level jets (LLJs) and the diurnal and seasonal variations in these properties. An objective LLJ identification algorithm that is suitable for high-temporal-and-vertical-resolution Doppler lidar data was created and applied to wind profiles obtained from a combination of Doppler lidar data and two-dimensional sonic anemometer observations. This algorithm was designed to identify coherent LLJ structures and requires that they persist for at least 1 h. The long-term mean LLJ frequency of occurrence at Utö was 12%, the mean LLJ wind speed was 11.6 m s−1, and the vast majority of identified LLJs occurred below 150 m above ground level. The LLJ frequency of occurrence was much higher during summer (21%) and spring (18%) than in autumn (8%) and winter (3%). During winter and spring, the LLJ frequency of occurrence is evenly distributed throughout the day. In contrast, the LLJ frequency of occurrence peaks at night (1900–0100 UTC) during summer and during the evening hours (1700–1900 UTC) in autumn. The highest and strongest LLJs come from the southwest, which is also the predominant LLJ direction in all seasons. LLJs below 100 m are common in spring and summer, are weaker, and do not show a strong directional dependence.

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Dominique Bouniol, Fleur Couvreux, Pierre-Honoré Kamsu-Tamo, Madeleine Leplay, Françoise Guichard, Florence Favot, and Ewan J. O’Connor

Abstract

This study focuses on the occurrence and type of clouds observed in West Africa, a subject that has been neither much documented nor quantified. It takes advantage of data collected above Niamey, Niger, in 2006 with the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Mobile Facility. A survey of cloud characteristics inferred from ground measurements is presented with a focus on their seasonal evolution and diurnal cycle. Four types of clouds are distinguished: high-level clouds, deep convective clouds, shallow convective clouds, and midlevel clouds. A frequent occurrence of the latter clouds located at the top of the Saharan air layer is highlighted. High-level clouds are ubiquitous throughout the period whereas shallow convective clouds are mainly noticeable during the core of the monsoon. The diurnal cycle of each cloud category and its seasonal evolution are investigated. CloudSat and Cloud–Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observations (CALIPSO) data are used to demonstrate that these four cloud types (in addition to stratocumulus clouds over the ocean) are not a particularity of the Niamey region and that midlevel clouds are present over the Sahara during most of the monsoon season. Moreover, using complementary datasets, the radiative impact of each type of clouds at the surface level has been quantified in the short- and longwave domains. Midlevel clouds and anvil clouds have the largest impact, respectively, in longwave (about 15 W m−2) and shortwave (about 150 W m−2) radiation. Furthermore, midlevel clouds exert a strong radiative forcing during the spring at a time when the other cloud types are less numerous.

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Ewan J. O’Connor, Anthony J. Illingworth, Ian M. Brooks, Christopher D. Westbrook, Robin J. Hogan, Fay Davies, and Barbara J. Brooks

Abstract

A method of estimating dissipation rates from a vertically pointing Doppler lidar with high temporal and spatial resolution has been evaluated by comparison with independent measurements derived from a balloon-borne sonic anemometer. This method utilizes the variance of the mean Doppler velocity from a number of sequential samples and requires an estimate of the horizontal wind speed. The noise contribution to the variance can be estimated from the observed signal-to-noise ratio and removed where appropriate. The relative size of the noise variance to the observed variance provides a measure of the confidence in the retrieval. Comparison with in situ dissipation rates derived from the balloon-borne sonic anemometer reveal that this particular Doppler lidar is capable of retrieving dissipation rates over a range of at least three orders of magnitude.

This method is most suitable for retrieval of dissipation rates within the convective well-mixed boundary layer where the scales of motion that the Doppler lidar probes remain well within the inertial subrange. Caution must be applied when estimating dissipation rates in more quiescent conditions. For the particular Doppler lidar described here, the selection of suitably short integration times will permit this method to be applicable in such situations but at the expense of accuracy in the Doppler velocity estimates. The two case studies presented here suggest that, with profiles every 4 s, reliable estimates of ε can be derived to within at least an order of magnitude throughout almost all of the lowest 2 km and, in the convective boundary layer, to within 50%. Increasing the integration time for individual profiles to 30 s can improve the accuracy substantially but potentially confines retrievals to within the convective boundary layer. Therefore, optimization of certain instrument parameters may be required for specific implementations.

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Dominique Bouniol, Alain Protat, Julien Delanoë, Jacques Pelon, Jean-Marcel Piriou, François Bouyssel, Adrian M. Tompkins, Damian R. Wilson, Yohann Morille, Martial Haeffelin, Ewan J. O’Connor, Robin J. Hogan, Anthony J. Illingworth, David P. Donovan, and Henk-Klein Baltink

Abstract

The ability of four operational weather forecast models [ECMWF, Action de Recherche Petite Echelle Grande Echelle model (ARPEGE), Regional Atmospheric Climate Model (RACMO), and Met Office] to generate a cloud at the right location and time (the cloud frequency of occurrence) is assessed in the present paper using a two-year time series of observations collected by profiling ground-based active remote sensors (cloud radar and lidar) located at three different sites in western Europe (Cabauw, Netherlands; Chilbolton, United Kingdom; and Palaiseau, France). Particular attention is given to potential biases that may arise from instrumentation differences (especially sensitivity) from one site to another and intermittent sampling. In a second step the statistical properties of the cloud variables involved in most advanced cloud schemes of numerical weather forecast models (ice water content and cloud fraction) are characterized and compared with their counterparts in the models. The two years of observations are first considered as a whole in order to evaluate the accuracy of the statistical representation of the cloud variables in each model. It is shown that all models tend to produce too many high-level clouds, with too-high cloud fraction and ice water content. The midlevel and low-level cloud occurrence is also generally overestimated, with too-low cloud fraction but a correct ice water content. The dataset is then divided into seasons to evaluate the potential of the models to generate different cloud situations in response to different large-scale forcings. Strong variations in cloud occurrence are found in the observations from one season to the same season the following year as well as in the seasonal cycle. Overall, the model biases observed using the whole dataset are still found at seasonal scale, but the models generally manage to well reproduce the observed seasonal variations in cloud occurrence. Overall, models do not generate the same cloud fraction distributions and these distributions do not agree with the observations. Another general conclusion is that the use of continuous ground-based radar and lidar observations is definitely a powerful tool for evaluating model cloud schemes and for a responsive assessment of the benefit achieved by changing or tuning a model cloud parameterization.

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THE CLOUDSAT MISSION AND THE A-TRAIN

A New Dimension of Space-Based Observations of Clouds and Precipitation

Graeme L. Stephens, Deborah G. Vane, Ronald J. Boain, Gerald G. Mace, Kenneth Sassen, Zhien Wang, Anthony J. Illingworth, Ewan J. O'connor, William B. Rossow, Stephen L. Durden, Steven D. Miller, Richard T. Austin, Angela Benedetti, Cristian Mitrescu, and the CloudSat Science Team

CloudSat is a satellite experiment designed to measure the vertical structure of clouds from space. The expected launch of CloudSat is planned for 2004, and once launched, CloudSat will orbit in formation as part of a constellation of satellites (the A-Train) that includes NASA's Aqua and Aura satellites, a NASA–CNES lidar satellite (CALIPSO), and a CNES satellite carrying a polarimeter (PARASOL). A unique feature that CloudSat brings to this constellation is the ability to fly a precise orbit enabling the fields of view of the CloudSat radar to be overlapped with the CALIPSO lidar footprint and the other measurements of the constellation. The precision and near simultaneity of this overlap creates a unique multisatellite observing system for studying the atmospheric processes essential to the hydrological cycle.

The vertical profiles of cloud properties provided by CloudSat on the global scale fill a critical gap in the investigation of feedback mechanisms linking clouds to climate. Measuring these profiles requires a combination of active and passive instruments, and this will be achieved by combining the radar data of CloudSat with data from other active and passive sensors of the constellation. This paper describes the underpinning science and general overview of the mission, provides some idea of the expected products and anticipated application of these products, and the potential capability of the A-Train for cloud observations. Notably, the CloudSat mission is expected to stimulate new areas of research on clouds. The mission also provides an important opportunity to demonstrate active sensor technology for future scientific and tactical applications. The CloudSat mission is a partnership between NASA's JPL, the Canadian Space Agency, Colorado State University, the U.S. Air Force, and the U.S. Department of Energy.

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Robert Wood, Matthew Wyant, Christopher S. Bretherton, Jasmine Rémillard, Pavlos Kollias, Jennifer Fletcher, Jayson Stemmler, Simone de Szoeke, Sandra Yuter, Matthew Miller, David Mechem, George Tselioudis, J. Christine Chiu, Julian A. L. Mann, Ewan J. O’Connor, Robin J. Hogan, Xiquan Dong, Mark Miller, Virendra Ghate, Anne Jefferson, Qilong Min, Patrick Minnis, Rabindra Palikonda, Bruce Albrecht, Ed Luke, Cecile Hannay, and Yanluan Lin

Abstract

The Clouds, Aerosol, and Precipitation in the Marine Boundary Layer (CAP-MBL) deployment at Graciosa Island in the Azores generated a 21-month (April 2009–December 2010) comprehensive dataset documenting clouds, aerosols, and precipitation using the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Program (ARM) Mobile Facility (AMF). The scientific aim of the deployment is to gain improved understanding of the interactions of clouds, aerosols, and precipitation in the marine boundary layer.

Graciosa Island straddles the boundary between the subtropics and midlatitudes in the northeast Atlantic Ocean and consequently experiences a great diversity of meteorological and cloudiness conditions. Low clouds are the dominant cloud type, with stratocumulus and cumulus occurring regularly. Approximately half of all clouds contained precipitation detectable as radar echoes below the cloud base. Radar and satellite observations show that clouds with tops from 1 to 11 km contribute more or less equally to surface-measured precipitation at Graciosa. A wide range of aerosol conditions was sampled during the deployment consistent with the diversity of sources as indicated by back-trajectory analysis. Preliminary findings suggest important two-way interactions between aerosols and clouds at Graciosa, with aerosols affecting light precipitation and cloud radiative properties while being controlled in part by precipitation scavenging.

The data from Graciosa are being compared with short-range forecasts made with a variety of models. A pilot analysis with two climate and two weather forecast models shows that they reproduce the observed time-varying vertical structure of lower-tropospheric cloud fairly well but the cloud-nucleating aerosol concentrations less well. The Graciosa site has been chosen to be a permanent fixed ARM site that became operational in October 2013.

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Tuukka Petäjä, Ewan J. O’Connor, Dmitri Moisseev, Victoria A. Sinclair, Antti J. Manninen, Riikka Väänänen, Annakaisa von Lerber, Joel A. Thornton, Keri Nicoll, Walt Petersen, V. Chandrasekar, James N. Smith, Paul M. Winkler, Olaf Krüger, Hannele Hakola, Hilkka Timonen, David Brus, Tuomas Laurila, Eija Asmi, Marja-Liisa Riekkola, Lucia Mona, Paola Massoli, Ronny Engelmann, Mika Komppula, Jian Wang, Chongai Kuang, Jaana Bäck, Annele Virtanen, Janne Levula, Michael Ritsche, and Nicki Hickmon

Abstract

During Biogenic Aerosols—Effects on Clouds and Climate (BAECC), the U.S. Department of Energy’s Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Program deployed the Second ARM Mobile Facility (AMF2) to Hyytiälä, Finland, for an 8-month intensive measurement campaign from February to September 2014. The primary research goal is to understand the role of biogenic aerosols in cloud formation. Hyytiälä is host to the Station for Measuring Ecosystem–Atmosphere Relations II (SMEAR II), one of the world’s most comprehensive surface in situ observation sites in a boreal forest environment. The station has been measuring atmospheric aerosols, biogenic emissions, and an extensive suite of parameters relevant to atmosphere–biosphere interactions continuously since 1996. Combining vertical profiles from AMF2 with surface-based in situ SMEAR II observations allows the processes at the surface to be directly related to processes occurring throughout the entire tropospheric column. Together with the inclusion of extensive surface precipitation measurements and intensive observation periods involving aircraft flights and novel radiosonde launches, the complementary observations provide a unique opportunity for investigating aerosol–cloud interactions and cloud-to-precipitation processes in a boreal environment. The BAECC dataset provides opportunities for evaluating and improving models of aerosol sources and transport, cloud microphysical processes, and boundary layer structures. In addition, numerical models are being used to bridge the gap between surface-based and tropospheric observations.

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