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A CloudSat–CALIPSO View of Cloud and Precipitation Properties across Cold...

Naud, C. M., D. Posselt, and S. van den Heever (2015), A CloudSat–CALIPSO View of Cloud and Precipitation Properties across Cold Fronts over the Global Oceans, J. Climate, 28, 6743-6762, doi:10.1175/JCLI-D-15-0052.1.

The distribution of cloud and precipitation properties across oceanic extratropical cyclone cold fronts is examined using four years of combined CloudSat radar and CALIPSO lidar retrievals. The global annual mean cloud and precipitation distributions show that low-level clouds are ubiquitous in the postfrontal zone while higher-level cloud frequency and precipitation peak in the warm sector along the surface front. Increases in temperature and moisture within the cold front region are associated with larger high-level but lower mid-/lowlevel cloud frequencies and precipitation decreases in the cold sector. This behavior seems to be related to a shift from stratiform to convective clouds and precipitation. Stronger ascent in the warm conveyor belt tends to enhance cloudiness and precipitation across the cold front. A strong temperature contrast between the warm and cold sectors also encourages greater post-cold-frontal cloud occurrence. While the seasonal contrasts in environmental temperature, moisture, and ascent strength are enough to explain most of the variations in cloud and precipitation across cold fronts in both hemispheres, they do not fully explain the differences between Northern and Southern Hemisphere cold fronts. These differences are better explained when the impact of the contrast in temperature across the cold front is also considered. In addition, these large-scale parameters do not explain the relatively large frequency in springtime postfrontal precipitation.

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