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Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 14, issue 7
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 14, 3573–3587, 2014
© Author(s) 2014. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 14, 3573–3587, 2014
© Author(s) 2014. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 09 Apr 2014

Research article | 09 Apr 2014

Atmospheric parameters in a subtropical cloud regime transition derived by AIRS and MODIS: observed statistical variability compared to ERA-Interim

M. M. Schreier1,2, B. H. Kahn2, K. Sušelj1,2, J. Karlsson2,3, S. C. Ou1, Q. Yue1,2, and S. L. Nasiri4 M. M. Schreier et al.
  • 1Joint Institute for Regional Earth System Science and Engineering, University of California – Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, USA
  • 2Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, USA
  • 3Department of Meteorology and Bolin Centre of Climate Research, Stockholm University, Sweden
  • 4Department of Atmospheric Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, USA

Abstract. Cloud occurrence, microphysical and optical properties, and atmospheric profiles within a subtropical cloud regime transition in the northeastern Pacific Ocean are obtained from a synergistic combination of the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) and the MODerate resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS). The observed cloud parameters and atmospheric thermodynamic profile retrievals are binned by cloud type and analyzed based on their probability density functions (PDFs). Comparison of the PDFs to data from the European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting reanalysis (ERA-Interim) shows a strong difference in the occurrence of the different cloud types compared to clear sky. An increasing non-Gaussian behavior is observed in cloud optical thickness (τc), effective radius (re) and cloud-top temperature (Tc) distributions from stratocumulus to trade cumulus, while decreasing values of lower-tropospheric stability are seen. However, variations in the mean, width and shape of the distributions are found. The AIRS potential temperature (θ) and water vapor (q) profiles in the presence of varying marine boundary layer (MBL) cloud types show overall similarities to the ERA-Interim in the mean profiles, but differences arise in the higher moments at some altitudes. The differences between the PDFs from AIRS+MODIS and ERA-Interim make it possible to pinpoint systematic errors in both systems and help to understand joint PDFs of cloud properties and coincident thermodynamic profiles from satellite observations.

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