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Evolution of a Florida Cirrus Anvil

Garrett, T., B. C. Navarro, C. Twohy, E. Jensen, D. Baumgardner, T. P. Bui, H. Gerber, R. L. Herman, A. Heymsfield, P. Lawson, P. Minnis, L. Nguyen, M. Poellot, S. K. Pope, F. Valero, and E. Weinstock (2005), Evolution of a Florida Cirrus Anvil, J. Atmos. Sci., 62, 2352-2372.

This paper presents a detailed study of a single thunderstorm anvil cirrus cloud measured on 21 July 2002 near southern Florida during the Cirrus Regional Study of Tropical Anvils and Cirrus Layers–Florida Area Cirrus Experiment (CRYSTAL-FACE). NASA WB-57F and University of North Dakota Citation aircraft tracked the microphysical and radiative development of the anvil for 3 h. Measurements showed that the cloud mass that was advected downwind from the thunderstorm was separated vertically into two layers: a cirrus anvil with cloud-top temperatures of Ϫ45°C lay below a second, thin tropopause cirrus (TTC) layer with the same horizontal dimensions as the anvil and temperatures near Ϫ70°C. In both cloud layers, ice crystals smaller than 50 μm across dominated the size distributions and cloud radiative properties. In the anvil, ice crystals larger than 50 μm aggregated and precipitated while small ice crystals increasingly dominated the size distributions; as a consequence, measured ice water contents and ice crystal effective radii decreased with time. Meanwhile, the anvil thinned vertically and maintained a stratification similar to its environment. Because effective radii were small, radiative heating and cooling were concentrated in layers approximately 100 m thick at the anvil top and base. A simple analysis suggests that the anvil cirrus spread laterally because mixing in these radiatively driven layers created horizontal pressure gradients between the cloud and its stratified environment. The TTC layer also spread but, unlike the anvil, did not dissipate—perhaps because the anvil shielded the TTC from terrestrial infrared heating. Calculations of top-of-troposphere radiative forcing above the anvil and TTC showed strong cooling that tapered as the anvil evolved.

Research Program: 
Radiation Science Program (RSP)