Diurnal and seasonal cycles of cloud occurrences, types and radiative impact over West Africa
Bouniol, D., Couvreux, F., Kamsu-Tamo, P.-H., Leplay, M., Guichard, F., Favot, F. and O'Connor, E. J. (2012) Diurnal and seasonal cycles of cloud occurrences, types and radiative impact over West Africa. Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology, 51 (3). pp. 534-553. ISSN 1558-8432
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1175/JAMC-D-11-051.1
This study focuses on the occurrence and type of clouds observed in West Africa, a subject which has neither been much documented nor quantified. It takes advantage of data collected above Niamey in 2006 with the ARM mobile facility. A survey of cloud characteristics inferred from ground measurements is presented with a focus on their seasonal evolution and diurnal cycle. Four types of clouds are distinguished: high-level clouds, deep convective clouds, shallow convective clouds and mid-level clouds. A frequent occurrence of the latter clouds located at the top of the Saharan Air Layer is highlighted. High-level clouds are ubiquitous throughout the period whereas shallow convective clouds are mainly noticeable during the core of the monsoon. The diurnal cycle of each cloud category and its seasonal evolution is investigated. CloudSat and CALIPSO data are used in order to demonstrate that these four cloud types (in addition to stratocumulus clouds over the ocean) are not a particularity of the Niamey region and that mid-level clouds are present over the Sahara during most of the Monsoon season. Moreover, using complementary data sets, the radiative impact of each type of clouds at the surface level has been quantified in the shortwave and longwave domain. Mid-level clouds and anvil clouds have the largest impact respectively in longwave (about 15 W m−2) and the shortwave (about 150 W m−2). Furthermore, mid-level clouds exert a strong radiative forcing in Spring at a time when the other cloud types are less numerous.