Heating Rates in Tropical Anvils

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  • 1 Space Science Division, NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California
  • | 2 Department of Meteorology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City
  • | 3 Space Science Division NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California
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Abstract

The interaction of infrared and solar radiation with tropical cirrus anvils is addressed. Optical properties of the anvils are inferred from satellite observations and from high-altitude aircraft measurements. An infrared multiple-scattering model is used to compute heating rates in tropical anvils. Layer-average heating rates in 2 km thick anvils were found to be on the order of 20 to 30°K day−1. The difference between heating rates at cloud bottom and cloud top ranges from 30 to 200°K day−1, leading to convective instability in the anvil. The calculations are most sensitive to the assumed ice water content, but also are affected by the vertical distribution of ice water content and by the anvil thickness. Solar heating in anvils is shown to be less important than infrared hearing but not negligible The dynamical implications of the computed heating rates are also explored and we conclude that the heating may have important consequences for upward mass transport in the tropics. The potential impact of tropical cirrus on the tropical energy balance and cloud forcing are discussed.

Abstract

The interaction of infrared and solar radiation with tropical cirrus anvils is addressed. Optical properties of the anvils are inferred from satellite observations and from high-altitude aircraft measurements. An infrared multiple-scattering model is used to compute heating rates in tropical anvils. Layer-average heating rates in 2 km thick anvils were found to be on the order of 20 to 30°K day−1. The difference between heating rates at cloud bottom and cloud top ranges from 30 to 200°K day−1, leading to convective instability in the anvil. The calculations are most sensitive to the assumed ice water content, but also are affected by the vertical distribution of ice water content and by the anvil thickness. Solar heating in anvils is shown to be less important than infrared hearing but not negligible The dynamical implications of the computed heating rates are also explored and we conclude that the heating may have important consequences for upward mass transport in the tropics. The potential impact of tropical cirrus on the tropical energy balance and cloud forcing are discussed.

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