Ubiquity and impact of thin mid-level clouds in the tropics
Number of Authors: 4
2016 (English)In: Nature Communications, ISSN 2041-1723, E-ISSN 2041-1723, Vol. 7, 12432Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Clouds are crucial for Earth's climate and radiation budget. Great attention has been paid to low, high and vertically thick tropospheric clouds such as stratus, cirrus and deep convective clouds. However, much less is known about tropospheric mid-level clouds as these clouds are challenging to observe in situ and difficult to detect by remote sensing techniques. Here we use Cloud-Aerosol Lidar with Orthogonal Polarization (CALIOP) satellite observations to show that thin mid-level clouds (TMLCs) are ubiquitous in the tropics. Supported by high-resolution regional model simulations, we find that TMLCs are formed by detrainment from convective clouds near the zero-degree isotherm. Calculations using a radiative transfer model indicate that tropical TMLCs have a cooling effect on climate that could be as large in magnitude as the warming effect of cirrus. We conclude that more effort has to be made to understand TMLCs, as their influence on cloud feedbacks, heat and moisture transport, and climate sensitivity could be substantial.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. Vol. 7, 12432
Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-134274DOI: 10.1038/ncomms12432ISI: 000381771300001PubMedID: 27530236OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-134274DiVA: diva2:1033428