9.4 How Important Is Convection for Controlling Stratospheric Humidity and Upper-Tropospheric Clouds?

Wednesday, 10 January 2018: 2:15 PM
Room 18CD (ACC) (Austin, Texas)
Rei Ueyama, NASA, Moffett Field, CA; and M. R. Schoeberl, E. Jensen, L. Pfister, and M. A. Avery

The role of convection on stratospheric water vapor and upper tropospheric cloud fraction is investigated using two sets of complementary transport and microphysical models driven by MERRA-2 and ERA-Interim meteorological analyses: (1) computationally efficient ensembles of forward trajectories with simplified cloud microphysics, and (2) one-dimensional simulations with detailed microphysics along back trajectories. Convective influence along the trajectories is diagnosed based on TRMM/GPM rainfall products and geostationary infrared satellite cloud-top measurements, with convective cloud-top height adjusted to match the CloudSat, CALIPSO, and CATS measurements. We evaluate and constrain the model results by comparison with satellite observations (e.g., Aura MLS, CALIPSO CALIOP) and high-altitude aircraft campaigns (e.g., ATTREX, POSIDON).
Convection moistens the lower stratosphere by approximately 10-15% and increases the cloud fraction in the upper troposphere by 35-50%. Convective moistening is dominated by the saturating effect of parcels; convectively-lofted ice has a negligible impact on lower stratospheric humidity. We also find that the highest convective clouds have a disproportionately large impact on stratospheric water vapor because stratospheric relative humidity is low. Implications of these model results on the role of convection on present and future climate will be discussed.
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