Subtropical cloud regime transitions: boundary layerdepth and cloud-top height evolution
2010 (English)In: Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology, ISSN 1558-8424, E-ISSN 1558-8432, Vol. 49, no 9, 1845-1858 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
In this study, the mean and variability of boundary layer height (BLH) are analyzed along a transect in the eastern Pacific Ocean for the summer of 2003 using BLH estimates based on the height of the main relative humidity (RH) inversion and the height of low cloud tops (CTH). The observations and the regional and global model data have been prepared in the context of the Global Energy and Water Cycle Experiment (GEWEX) Cloud System Study (GCSS) Pacific Cross-Section Intercomparison (GPCI). The GPCI transect covers the transition from a stratocumulus-topped marine boundary layer (MBL) off the coast of California to a trade cumulus-topped, less-well-defined, MBL, and finally to the deep-convection regions in the intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ). The Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) and the Multiangle Imaging Spectroradiometer (MISR) have been used to derive observational records of the two BLH estimates. Analyses from the ECMWF are also used in the study. Both BLH estimates in the models, the ECMWF analysis, and the observations agree on a southward vertical growth of the MBL along the GPCI transect in the stratocumulus region. Away from the region typically associated with extensive cloud cover, the two BLH estimates depict different evolutions of the MBL. In most models, the height of the main RH inversion decreases southward from; similar to 18 degrees N, reaching a minimum at the ITCZ, whereas the height of the RH inversion in the ECMWF analysis and a few of the models is fairly constant all the way to the ITCZ. As a result of insufficient vertical resolution of the gridded dataset, the AIRS data only manage to reproduce the initial growth of the BLH. The median-model CTH increases from the stratocumulus-topped MBL to the ITCZ. In contrast, the observed MISR CTHs decrease southward from 20 degrees N to the ITCZ, possibly indicative of the fact that in these regions MISR manages to capture a variety of cloud tops with a mean that is below the subsidence inversion while the models and the ECMWF analysis mainly simulate CTHs corresponding to the height of the subsidence inversion. In most models and in the ECMWF analysis, the height of the main RH inversion and the CTH tend to coincide in the northern part of the GPCI transect. In the regions associated with trade cumuli and deep convection there is a more ambiguous relation between the two BLH estimates. In this region, most of the models place the CTH above the main RH inversion. The ECMWF analysis shows a good agreement between the BLH estimates throughout the transect.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2010. Vol. 49, no 9, 1845-1858 p.
Clouds, Boundary layer, Pacific Ocean, Marine boundary layer, Profilers
Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences
Research subject Meteorology
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-29273DOI: 10.1175/2010JAMC2338.1ISI: 000282251100004OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-29273DiVA: diva2:232089