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Si-Chee Tsay and Kolf Jayaweera

Abstract

Observations of the physical properties of Arctic status clouds (ASC) over the Beaufort Sea area were made by the NCAR Electra aircraft during June 1980. The cloud morphology and microstructure observed during these experiments are described here. Arctic stratus clouds were formed under various meteorological conditions, but not when the axis of the Beaufort Sea ridge was zonal and the airflow into the region was continental.

The mean drop diameter in clouds observed under all conditions remained near 10 μm, while the mean liquid water content (LWC) was characteristic of the air mass forming the clouds and essentially determined by the mean drop concentration. Clouds showed considerable horizontal homogeneity but significant vertical changes occurred within them. The vertical profiles of LWC show that the values generally increased with height, as a result of an increase in droplet size rather than concentration. The drop size distribution near the base was monomodal, characteristic of condensation on a nucleus spectrum, but changed to a bimodal distribution near the top of the cloud.

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Si-Chee Tsay, Knut Stamnes, and Kolf Jayaweera

Abstract

A radiation model is constructed that includes radiative interactions with atmospheric gases as well as parameterized treatments of scattering and absorption/emission by cloud droplets and haze particles. A unified treatment of solar and terrestrial radiation is obtained by using identical cloud and haze parameterization procedure for the shortwave and longwave region. The influence of the relative humidity of the haze particles is also considered. Snow conditions of the arctic region are simulated in terms of snow grain sizes and soot contamination in the surface layers. Data from the Arctic Stratus Cloud Experiment collected in 1980 are used for model comparisons and sensitivity studies under cloudy and hazy sky conditions.

During the arctic summer, stratus clouds are a persistent feature and decrease the downward flux at the surface by about 130–200 W m−2. Arctic haze in the summertime is important if it is above the cloud layer or in air with low relative humidity, and it decreases the downward flux at the surface by about 10–12 W m−2. By comparison the greenhouse effect of doubling the carbon dioxide amount increases the downward flux at the surface by about 4–7 W m−2 and can be offset by the background haze or by an increase in cloudiness of about 4%.

Assuming steady microstructures of stratus clouds, we find that in late June a clear sky condition results in more available downward flux for snow melt (yielding a melting rate of 9.3 em day−1) than does a cloudy sky condition (6 cm day−1). This is because the increase of infrared radiation diffused back to the surface by the cloud can not compensate for the reduction of solar radiation. When the snow starts to melt, the decreasing snow albedo further accelerates the melting process.

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Philip M. Gabriel, Penshu Yeh, and Si-Chee Tsay

Abstract

This paper presents results and analyses of applying an international space data compression standard to weather radar measurements that can easily span eight orders of magnitude and typically require a large storage capacity as well as significant bandwidth for transmission. By varying the degree of the data compression, the nonlinear response of models that relates measured radar reflectivity and/or Doppler spectra to the moments and properties of the particle size distribution characterizing clouds and precipitation was analyzed. Preliminary results for the meteorologically important phenomena of clouds and light rain indicate that for a ±0.5-dB calibration uncertainty, typical for the ground-based pulsed-Doppler 94-GHz (or 3.2 mm, W band) weather radar used as a proxy for spaceborne radar in this study, a lossless compression ratio of only 1.2 is achievable. However, further analyses of the nonlinear response of various models of rainfall rate, liquid water content, and median volume diameter show that a lossy data compression ratio exceeding 15 is realizable. The exploratory analyses presented are relevant to future satellite missions, where the transmission bandwidth is premium and storage requirements of vast volumes of data are potentially problematic.

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Si-Chee Tsay, Philip M. Gabriel, Michael D. King, and Graeme L. Stephens

Abstract

One of the major sources of uncertainty in climate studies is the detection of cirrus clouds and characterization of their radiative properties. Combinations of water vapor absorption channels (e.g., 1.38 µm), ice-water absorption channels (e.g., 1.64 µm), and atmospheric window channels (e.g., 11 µm) in the imager, together with a lidar profiler on future EOS platforms, will contribute to enhancing our understanding of cirrus clouds.

The aforementioned spectral channels are used in this study to explore the effects exerted by uncertainties in cloud microphysical properties (e.g., particle size distribution) and cloud morphology on the apparent radiative properties, such as spectral reflectance and heating and cooling rate profiles. As in Part I of our previous study, which establishes the foundations of the Fourier-Riccati method of radiative transfer in inhomogeneous media, cloud extinction and scattering functions are characterized by simple spatial variations with measured and hypothesized microphysics to facilitate our understanding of their radiative properties.

Results of this study suggest that (i) while microphysical variations in the scattering and extinction functions of clouds affect the magnitudes of their spectral reflectances, cloud morphology significantly alters the shape of their angular distribution; (ii) spectral reflectances viewed near nadir are least affected by cloud variability; and (iii) cloud morphology can load to spectral heating and cooling rate profiles that differ substantially from their plane-parallel averaged equivalents. Since there are no horizontal thermal gradients in plane-parallel clouds, it may be difficult to correct for this deficiency.

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Ming-Dah Chou, Kyu-Tae Lee, Si-Chee Tsay, and Qiang Fu

Abstract

A parameterization for the scattering of thermal infrared (longwave) radiation by clouds has been developed based on discrete-ordinate multiple-scattering calculations. The effect of backscattering is folded into the emission of an atmospheric layer and the absorption between levels by scaling the cloud optical thickness. The scaling is a function of the single-scattering albedo and asymmetry factor. For wide ranges of cloud particle size, optical thickness, height, and atmospheric conditions, flux errors induced by the parameterization are small. They are <4 W m−2 (2%) in the upward flux at the top of the atmosphere and <2 W m−2 (1%) in the downward flux at the surface. Compared to the case that scattering by clouds is neglected, the flux errors are more than a factor of 2 smaller. The maximum error in cooling rate is ≈8%, which occurs at the top of clouds, as well as at the base of high clouds where the difference between the cloud and surface temperatures is large.

With the scaling approximation, radiative transfer equations for a cloudy atmosphere are identical with those for a clear atmosphere, and the difficulties in applying a multiple-scattering algorithm to a partly cloudy atmosphere (assuming homogeneous clouds) are avoided. The computational efficiency is practically the same as that for a clear atmosphere. The parameterization represents a significant reduction in one source of the errors involved in the calculation of longwave cooling in cloudy atmospheres.

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Bo-Cai Gao, Wei Han, Si Chee Tsay, and North F. Larsen

Abstract

Detection of clouds over arctic regions from current satellite radiometric measurements in the visible and IR atmospheric window regions, such as those of Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer and Landsat, is often difficult due to the high albedos of snow- and ice-covered surfaces in the visible and the nearly isothermal temperature profiles in the lower atmosphere. In this paper the authors show that the water vapor absorption channel at 1.38 μm is effective in detecting high clouds over snow- and ice-covered surfaces in the Arctic. Low-level clouds can be detected from surface snow and sea ice using a narrow channel centered at 1.5 μm with a width of approximately 10 nm because of the dark background that results from strong absorption by snow and sea ice. Imaging data with contiguous spectral coverage between 0.4 and 2.5 μm acquired with the Airborne Visible/Infrared Imaging Spectrometer during the Arctic Radiation Measurements in Column Atmosphere-Surface System in Alaska in 1995 are analyzed. The authors have observed that as wavelength increases from 1.38 μm the atmospheric water vapor absorption becomes weaker and weaker and the low-level clouds and surface tundra are increasingly seen. It is always possible to locate a narrow channel in the spectral range of 1.38–1.50 μm with appropriate water vapor absorption strength to separate water and ice clouds from surface snow, sea ice, and tundra. The simple cloud-masking technique described here is directly applicable to cloud detection during the daytime from hyperspectral imaging data over arctic regions, which will be acquired with future satellite sensors.

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Graeme L. Stephens, Si-Chee Tsay, Paul W. Stackhouse Jr., and Piotr J. Flatau

Abstract

This paper examines the effects of the relationship between cirrus cloud ice water content and cloud temperature on climate change. A simple mechanistic climate model is used to study the feedback between ice water content and temperature. The central question studied in this paper concerns the extent to which both the radiative and microphysical properties of cirrus cloud influence such a feedback. To address this question, a parameterization of the albedo and emissivity of clouds is introduced. Observations that relate the ice water content to cloud temperature are incorporated in the parameterization to introduce a temperature dependence to both albedo and emittance. The cloud properties relevant to the cloud feedback are expressed as functions of particles size re, asymmetry parameter g and cloud temperature and analyses of aircraft measurements, lidar and ground based radiometer data are used to select re and g. It was shown that scattering calculations assuming spherical particles with a distribution described by re = 16 μm reasonably matched the lidar and radiometer data. However, comparison of cloud radiation properties measured from aircraft to those parameterized in this study required values of g significantly smaller than those derived for spheres but consistent with our understanding of nonspherical particle scattering.

The climate simulations revealed that the influence of cirrus cloud on climate was strongly affected by the choice of re and g: parameters that are both poorly known for cirrus. It was further shown that the effect of ice water feedback on a CO2 warming simulation could be either positive or negative depending on the value of re assumed. Based on these results, it was concluded that prediction of cirrus cloud feedback on climate is both premature and limited by our lack of understanding of the relationship between size and shape of ice crystals and the gross radiative properties of cirrus.

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K. M. Lau, Yihui Ding, Jough-Tai Wang, Richard Johnson, Tom Keenan, Robert Cifelli, John Gerlach, Otto Thieleandamp, Tom Rickenbach, Si-Chee Tsay, and Po-Hsiung Lin

The South China Sea Monsoon Experiment (SCSMEX) is an international field experiment with the objective to better understand the key physical processes for the onset and evolution of the summer monsoon over Southeast Asia and southern China aiming at improving monsoon predictions. In this article, a description of the major meteorological observation platforms during the intensive observing periods of SCSMEX is presented. In addition, highlights of early results and discussions of the role of SCSMEX in providing valuable in situ data for calibration of satellite rainfall estimates from the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission are provided. Preliminary results indicate that there are distinctive stages in the onset of the South China Sea monsoon including possibly strong influences from extratropical systems as well as from convection over the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal. There is some tantalizing evidence of complex interactions between the supercloud cluster development over the Indian Ocean, advancing southwest monsoon flow over the South China Sea, midlatitude disturbances, and the western Pacific subtropical high, possibly contributing to the disastrous flood of the Yangtze River Basin in China during June 1998.

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Michael D. King, W. Paul Menzel, Patrick S. Grant, Jeffrey S. Myers, G. Thomas Arnold, Steven E. Platnick, Liam E. Gumley, Si-Chee Tsay, Christopher C. Moeller, Michael Fitzgerald, Kenneth S. Brown, and Fred G. Osterwisch

Abstract

An airborne scanning spectrometer was developed for measuring reflected solar and emitted thermal radiation in 50 narrowband channels between 0.55 and 14.2 µm. The instrument provides multispectral images of outgoing radiation for purposes of developing and validating algorithms for the remote sensing of cloud, aerosol, water vapor, and surface properties from space. The spectrometer scans a swath width of 37 km, perpendicular to the aircraft flight track, with a 2.5-mrad instantaneous field of view. Images are thereby produced with a spatial resolution of 50 m at nadir from a nominal aircraft altitude of 20 km. Nineteen of the spectral bands correspond closely to comparable bands on the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), a facility instrument being developed for the Earth Observing System to be launched in the late 1990s. This paper describes the optical, mechanical, electrical, and data acquisition system design of the MODIS Airborne Simulator and presents some early results obtained from measurements acquired aboard the National Aeronautics and Space Administration ER-2 aircraft that illustrate the performance and quality of the data produced by this instrument.

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Edward J. Zipser, Cynthia H. Twohy, Si-Chee Tsay, K. Lee Thornhill, Simone Tanelli, Robert Ross, T. N. Krishnamurti, Q. Ji, Gregory Jenkins, Syed Ismail, N. Christina Hsu, Robbie Hood, Gerald M. Heymsfield, Andrew Heymsfield, Jeffrey Halverson, H. Michael Goodman, Richard Ferrare, Jason P. Dunion, Michael Douglas, Robert Cifelli, Gao Chen, Edward V. Browell, and Bruce Anderson

In 2006, NASA led a field campaign to investigate the factors that control the fate of African easterly waves (AEWs) moving westward into the tropical Atlantic Ocean. Aircraft and surface-based equipment were based on Cape Verde's islands, helping to fill some of the data void between Africa and the Caribbean. Taking advantage of the international African Monsoon Multidisciplinary Analysis (AMMA) program over the continent, the NASA-AMMA (NAMMA) program used enhanced upstream data, whereas NOAA aircraft farther west in the Atlantic studied several of the storms downstream. Seven AEWs were studied during AMMA, with at least two becoming tropical cyclones. Some of the waves that did not develop while being sampled near Cape Verde likely intensified in the central Atlantic instead. NAMMA observations were able to distinguish between the large-scale wave structure and the smaller-scale vorticity maxima that often form within the waves. A special complication of the east Atlantic environment is the Saharan air layer (SAL), which frequently accompanies the AEWs and may introduce dry air and heavy aerosol loading into the convective storm systems in the AEWs. One of the main achievements of NAMMA was the acquisition of a database of remote sensing and in situ observations of the properties of the SAL, enabling dynamic models and satellite retrieval algorithms to be evaluated against high-quality real data. Ongoing research with this database will help determine how the SAL influences cloud microphysics and perhaps also tropical cyclogenesis, as well as the more general question of recognizing the properties of small-scale vorticity maxima within tropical waves that are more likely to become tropical cyclones.

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