A-Train observations of maritime midlatitude storm-track cloud systems: comparing the Southern Ocean against the North Atlantic

Yi Huang, Alain Protat, Steven T Siems, Michael J Manton

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23 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Cloud and precipitation properties of the midlatitude storm-track regions over the Southern Ocean (SO) and North Atlantic (NA) are explored using reanalysis datasets and A-Train observations from 2007 to 2011. In addition to the high-level retrieval products, lower-level observed variables - CloudSat radar reflectivity and Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observations (CALIPSO) lidar attenuated backscatter - are directly examined using both contoured frequency by altitude diagrams (CFADs) and contoured frequency by temperature diagrams (CFTDs) to provide direct insight into thermodynamic phase properties. While the wintertime temperature profiles are similar over the two regions, the summertime environment is warmer over the NA. The NA atmosphere is generally moister than the SO, while the SO boundary layer is moister during winter. The results herein suggest that although the two regions exhibit many similarities in the prevalence of boundary layer clouds (BLCs) and frontal systems, notable differences exist. The NA environment exhibits stronger seasonality in thermodynamic structure, cloud, and precipitation properties than the SO. The regional differences of cloud properties are dominated by microphysics in winter and thermodynamics in summer. Glaciated clouds with higher reflectivities are found at warmer temperatures over the NA. BLCs (primarily below 1.5 km) are a predominant component over the SO. The wintertime boundary layer is shallower over the SO. Midlevel clouds consisting of smaller hydrometeors in higher concentration (potentially supercooled liquid water) are more frequently observed over the SO. Cirrus clouds are more prevalent over the NA. Notable differences exist in both the frequencies of thermodynamic phases of precipitation and intensity of warm rain over the two regions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1920-1939
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Climate
Volume28
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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