J2.1 A study on the low-elevation clouds over the Southern Ocean with A-Train observation and WRF simulations

Monday, 9 July 2012: 10:30 AM
Essex Center/South (Westin Copley Place)
Yi Huang, Monash University, Monash UNI, VIC, Australia; and S. T. Siems, M. J. Manton, A. Protat, and J. Delanoë

The thermodynamic phase of the prevailing low-altitude clouds (tops below 3km) has a strong effect upon the radiative budget over the Southern Ocean (SO) (Mace et al. 2010), which has been found to be poorly represented in both state-of-the-art reanalysis and coupled global climate models (Trenberth and Fasullo, 2010).

A 4-yr climatology of the thermodynamic phase and structure of the clouds over the SO (40-65°S,100-160°E) has been constructed with the A-Train merged product DARDAR-MASK for winter and summer. Low-elevation clouds (tops below 1km) with a weak seasonal cycle dominate this climatology. Such clouds predominantly reside in the temperature range from freezing to -20° C and are difficult to observe as a result of the physical limitation of the Cloud Profiling Radar (CPR) at this altitude and the lidar signal of CALIPSO commonly being attenuated. A cloud-top phase climatology comparison between CALIPSO, DARDAR-MASK and MODIS highlights the extensive presence of supercooled liquid water over the SO, particularly during summer. Glaciated and mixed phase cloud tops are appreciably recorded by DARDAR-MASK especially during winter.

A-Train observations have also been used to evaluate the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRFV3.3.1) simulations over this domain. These simulations show skill in capturing the overall structure and phase composition of the convective clouds associated with frontal passages, although they are sensitive to the microphysics scheme employed. The simulations, however, have greater difficulty capturing the wide spread low-elevation clouds that are not immediately associated with the frontal passage.

- Indicates paper has been withdrawn from meeting
- Indicates an Award Winner