S146 Examining Stratocumulus Properties over the Southeast Pacific

Sunday, 6 January 2013
Exhibit Hall 3 (Austin Convention Center)
Isabel Louise McCoy, University of Washington, Seattle, WA; and A. Muhlbauer and R. Wood

Variability in Stratocumulus (Sc) clouds is important to the planetary albedo and radiation budget because they reflect incoming shortwave radiation back to space thereby cooling the atmosphere. Understanding more of their micro and macro physical properties is essential to reduce uncertainty in global climate model prediction and add confidence in future climate predictions. In 2006, Robert Wood and Dennis Hartmann characterized Sc clouds into four main categories based on their morphology and level of mesoscale organization. We focus on two of these categories, open and closed cells, because of their differing cloud coverage. Satellite data (from NASA's CloudSat and Goes 10) is used in combination with the occurrence identifications to develop statistics on the microphysical characteristics for each cloud type. The results compare successfully to the aircraft data from a recent campaign sampling the same region (the VOCALS Regional Experiment over the Southeast Pacific in 2008). When we contrast these cases we find that the open cells have both a higher drizzle rate (at cloud base) and a larger range of rates than the closed. We further conclude that this is a feasible method of characterizing satellite data to derive pertinent results about Sc clouds. Whether these properties are specific to the Southeast Pacific Sc clouds, and if similar results can be found for expanded time and area, is the topic of future research.
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