Articles | Volume 11, issue 3
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 11, 1167–1176, 2011
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 11, 1167–1176, 2011

  11 Feb 2011

11 Feb 2011

Deep convective clouds at the tropopause

H. H. Aumann1, S. G. DeSouza-Machado2, and A. Behrangi1 H. H. Aumann et al.
  • 1California Institute of Technology, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, CA, USA
  • 2Department of Physics, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Baltimore, MD, USA

Abstract. Data from the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) on the EOS Aqua spacecraft each day show tens of thousands of Cold Clouds (CC) in the tropical oceans with 10 μm window channel brightness temperatures colder than 225 K. These clouds represent a mix of cold anvil clouds and Deep Convective Clouds (DCC). This mix can be separated by computing the difference between two channels, a window channel and a channel with strong CO2 absorption: for some cold clouds this difference is negative, i.e. the spectra for some cold clouds are inverted. We refer to cold clouds with spectra which are more than 2 K inverted as DCCi2. Associated with DCCi2 is a very high rain rate and a local upward displacement of the tropopause, a cold "bulge", which can be seen directly in the brightness temperatures of AIRS and Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit (AMSU) temperature sounding channels in the lower stratosphere. The very high rain rate and the local distortion of the tropopause indicate that DCCi2 objects are associated with severe storms. Significant long-term trends in the statistical properties of DCCi2 could be interesting indicators of climate change. While the analysis of the nature and physical conditions related to DCCi2 requires hyperspectral infrared and microwave data, the identification of DCCi2 requires only one good window channel and one strong CO2 sounding channel. This suggests that improved identification of severe storms with future advanced geostationary satellites could be accomplished with the addition of one or two narrow band channels.

Final-revised paper