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The Observed Structure and Precipitation Characteristics of Southeast Atlantic...

Dzambo, A., T. L'Ecuyer, O. Sy, and S. Tanelli (2019), The Observed Structure and Precipitation Characteristics of Southeast Atlantic Stratocumulus from Airborne Radar during ORACLES 2016-17, J. Appl. Meteor. Climat., 58, 2197-2215, doi:https://doi.org/10.1175/JAMC-D-19-0032.1.

During the ObseRvations of Aerosols above CLouds and their intEractionS (ORACLES) 2016 and 2017 field experiments, the 3rd Generation Advanced Precipitation and cloud Radar (APR-3) flew aboard the NASA P-3 aircraft taking over 10 million profiles of stratocumulus clouds in the southeast Atlantic Ocean. This study documents cloud structure, precipitation frequency and intensity, and atmospheric stability for each flight during both field experiments. A larger cloud fraction was estimated for 2016, likely due to a larger estimated inversion strength (EIS) in the experiment area (between 6-10 K) compared to 2017 where EIS was on average 4-6 K lower. We used an optimal estimation retrieval to derive precipitation rates for all measurable clouds during both experiments. Over 30% of clouds observed during the 2016 experiment exhibited precipitation reaching the surface, but retrieved drizzle rates were below 0.01 mm h−1 in all but 40% of these profiles. This is in sharp contrast to the 2017 campaign where over 53% of precipitating profiles had rainfall rates larger than 0.01 mm hr−1. The differences in cloud and rain fractions between the two years are most likely due to differences in the sampling environments; however, enough variations in cloud, virga and rain fraction exist for similar environmental conditions such that further analysis of cloud and aerosol interactions – specifically their effect on precipitation processes – needs further exploration. The extensive APR-3 sampling of drizzling stratocumulus under similar thermodynamic conditions provides a rich dataset for examining the influence of biomass burning aerosols on cloud fraction, morphology and precipitation characteristics in this climatically important region.

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Research Program: 
Atmospheric Composition
Radiation Science Program (RSP)
Atmospheric Dynamics and Precipitation Program (ADP)