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Cloud properties and their seasonal and diurnal variability from TOVS path-B

Stubenrauch, C. J., Chedin, A., Radel, G., Scott, N. A. and Serrar, S. (2006) Cloud properties and their seasonal and diurnal variability from TOVS path-B. Journal Of Climate, 19 (21). pp. 5531-5553. ISSN 1520-0442

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Eight years of cloud properties retrieved from Television Infrared Observation Satellite-N (TIROS-N) Observational Vertical Sounder (TOVS) observations aboard the NOAA polar orbiting satellites are presented. The relatively high spectral resolution of these instruments in the infrared allows especially reliable cirrus identification day and night. This dataset therefore provides complementary information to the International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project (ISCCP). According to this dataset, cirrus clouds cover about 27% of the earth and 45% of the Tropics, whereas ISCCP reports 19% and 25%, respectively. Both global datasets agree within 5% on the amount of single-layer low clouds, at 30%. From 1987 to 1995, global cloud amounts remained stable to within 2%. The seasonal cycle of cloud amount is in general stronger than its diurnal cycle and it is stronger than the one of effective cloud amount, the latter the relevant variable for radiative transfer. Maximum effective low cloud amount over ocean occurs in winter in SH subtropics in the early morning hours and in NH midlatitudes without diurnal cycle. Over land in winter the maximum is in the early afternoon, accompanied in the midlatitudes by thin cirrus. Over tropical land and in the other regions in summer, the maximum of mesoscale high opaque clouds occurs in the evening. Cirrus also increases during the afternoon and persists during night and early morning. The maximum of thin cirrus is in the early afternoon, then decreases slowly while cirrus and high opaque clouds increase. TOVS extends information of ISCCP during night, indicating that high cloudiness, increasing during the afternoon, persists longer during night in the Tropics and subtropics than in midlatitudes. A comparison of seasonal and diurnal cycle of high cloud amount between South America, Africa, and Indonesia during boreal winter has shown strong similarities between the two land regions, whereas the Indonesian islands show a seasonal and diurnal behavior strongly influenced by the surrounding ocean. Deeper precipitation systems over Africa than over South America do not seem to be directly reflected in the horizontal coverage and mesoscale effective emissivity of high clouds.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:5133
Publisher:American Meteorological Society

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