RACORO extended-term, aircraft observations of boundary-layer clouds
Vogelmann, A. M., McFarquhar, G. M., Ogren, J. A.,, Turner, D. D., Comstock, J. M., Feingold, G., Long, C. N., Jonsson, H. H., Bucholtz, A., Collins, D. R., Diskin, G. S., Gerber, H., Lawson, R. P., Woods, R. K., Andrews, E., Yang, H.-J., Chiu, J. C., Hartsock, D., Hubbe, J. M., Lo, C., Marshak, A., Monroe, J. W., McFarlane, S. A., Schmid, B., Tomlinson, J. M. and Toto, T. (2013) RACORO extended-term, aircraft observations of boundary-layer clouds. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 93 (6). pp. 861-878. ISSN 1520-0477
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To link to this item DOI: 10.1175/BAMS-D-11-00189.1
A first-of-a-kind, extended-term cloud aircraft campaign was conducted to obtain an in-situ statistical characterization of continental boundary-layer clouds needed to investigate cloud processes and refine retrieval algorithms. Coordinated by the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Aerial Facility (AAF), the Routine AAF Clouds with Low Optical Water Depths (CLOWD) Optical Radiative Observations (RACORO) field campaign operated over the ARM Southern Great Plains (SGP) site from 22 January to 30 June 2009, collecting 260 h of data during 59 research flights. A comprehensive payload aboard the Center for Interdisciplinary Remotely-Piloted Aircraft Studies (CIRPAS) Twin Otter aircraft measured cloud microphysics, solar and thermal radiation, physical aerosol properties, and atmospheric state parameters. Proximity to the SGP's extensive complement of surface measurements provides ancillary data that supports modeling studies and facilitates evaluation of a variety of surface retrieval algorithms. The five-month duration enabled sampling a range of conditions associated with the seasonal transition from winter to summer. Although about two-thirds of the cloud flights occurred in May and June, boundary-layer cloud fields were sampled under a variety of environmental and aerosol conditions, with about 77% of the flights occurring in cumulus and stratocumulus. Preliminary analyses illustrate use of these data to analyze cloud-aerosol relationships, characterize the horizontal variability of cloud radiative impacts, and evaluate surface-based retrievals. We discuss how an extended-term campaign requires a simplified operating paradigm that is different from that used for typical, short-term, intensive aircraft field programs.