Global Weather States and Their Properties from Passive and Active Satellite...

Tselioudis, G., W. Rossow, Y. Zhang, and D. Konsta (2013), Global Weather States and Their Properties from Passive and Active Satellite Cloud Retrievals, J. Climate, 26, 7734-7746, doi:10.1175/JCLI-D-13-00024.1.

In this study, the authors apply a clustering algorithm to International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project (ISCCP) cloud optical thickness–cloud top pressure histograms in order to derive weather states (WSs) for the global domain. The cloud property distribution within each WS is examined and the geographical variability of each WS is mapped. Once the global WSs are derived, a combination of CloudSat and Cloud–Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observations (CALIPSO) vertical cloud structure retrievals is used to derive the vertical distribution of the cloud field within each WS. Finally, the dynamic environment and the radiative signature of the WSs are derived and their variability is examined. The cluster analysis produces a comprehensive description of global atmospheric conditions through the derivation of 11 WSs, each representing a distinct cloud structure characterized by the horizontal distribution of cloud optical depth and cloud top pressure. Matching those distinct WSs with cloud vertical profiles derived from CloudSat and CALIPSO retrievals shows that the ISCCP WSs exhibit unique distributions of vertical layering that correspond well to the horizontal structure of cloud properties. Matching the derived WSs with vertical velocity measurements shows a normal progression in dynamic regime when moving from the most convective to the least convective WS. Time trend analysis of the WSs shows a sharp increase of the fair-weather WS in the 1990s and a flattening of that increase in the 2000s. The fact that the fair-weather WS is the one with the lowest cloud radiative cooling capability implies that this behavior has contributed excess radiative warming to the global radiative budget during the 1990s.

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