Variation in Nimbus-7 Cloud Estimates. Part I: Zonal Averages

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  • 1 Atmospheric Science Unit, Department of Land, Air and Water Resources, University of California, Davis, California
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Abstract

Zonal averages of low, middle and total cloud amount estimates derived from measurements from Nimbus-7 have been analyzed for the six-year period April 1979 through March 1985. The globally and zonally averaged values of six-year annual means and standard deviations of total cloud amount and a proxy of cloud-top height are illustrated. Separate means for day and night and land and sea are also shown. The globally averaged value of intra-annual variability of total cloud amount is greater than 7%, and that for cloud height is greater than 0.3 km. Those of interannual variability are more than one-third of these values. Important latitudinal differences in variability are illustrated. The dominant empirical orthogonal analyses of the intra-annual variations of total cloud amount and heights show strong annual cycles, indicating that in the tropics increases in total cloud amount of up to about 30% are often accompanied by increases in cloud height of up to 1.2 km. This positive link is also evident in the dominant empirical orthogonal function of interannual variations of a total cloud/cloud height complex. This function shows a large coherent variation in total cloud cover of about 10% coupled with changes in cloud height of about 1.1 km associated with the 1982–83 El Niño–Southern Oscillation event.

Abstract

Zonal averages of low, middle and total cloud amount estimates derived from measurements from Nimbus-7 have been analyzed for the six-year period April 1979 through March 1985. The globally and zonally averaged values of six-year annual means and standard deviations of total cloud amount and a proxy of cloud-top height are illustrated. Separate means for day and night and land and sea are also shown. The globally averaged value of intra-annual variability of total cloud amount is greater than 7%, and that for cloud height is greater than 0.3 km. Those of interannual variability are more than one-third of these values. Important latitudinal differences in variability are illustrated. The dominant empirical orthogonal analyses of the intra-annual variations of total cloud amount and heights show strong annual cycles, indicating that in the tropics increases in total cloud amount of up to about 30% are often accompanied by increases in cloud height of up to 1.2 km. This positive link is also evident in the dominant empirical orthogonal function of interannual variations of a total cloud/cloud height complex. This function shows a large coherent variation in total cloud cover of about 10% coupled with changes in cloud height of about 1.1 km associated with the 1982–83 El Niño–Southern Oscillation event.

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