Evaluation of tropical cloud regimes in observations and a general circulation...

Chen, Y., and A. Del Genio (2009), Evaluation of tropical cloud regimes in observations and a general circulation model, Clim. Dyn., 32, 355-369, doi:10.1007/s00382-008-0386-6.

Tropical cloud regimes defined by cluster analysis of International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project (ISCCP) cloud top pressure (CTP)–optical thickness distributions and ISCCP-like Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) general circulation model (GCM) output are analyzed in this study. The observations are evaluated against radar–lidar cloud-top profiles from the atmospheric radiation measurement (ARM) Program active remote sensing of cloud layers (ARSCL) product at two tropical locations and by placing them in the dynamical context of the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO). ARSCL highest cloud-top profiles indicate that differences among some of the six ISCCP regimes may not be as prominent as suggested by ISCCP at the ARM tropical sites. An experimental adjustment of the ISCCP CTPs to produce cloud-top height profiles consistent with ARSCL eliminates the independence between those regimes. Despite these ambiguities, the ISCCP regime evolution over different phases of the MJO is consistent with existing MJO mechanisms, but with a greater mix of cloud types in each phase than is usually envisioned. The GISS Model E GCM produces two disturbed and two suppressed regimes when vertical convective condensate transport is included in the model’s cumulus parameterization. The primary model deficiencies are the absence of an isolated cirrus regime, a lack of mid-level cloud relative to ARSCL, and a tendency Y. Chen (&) Department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics, Columbia University and Institute for Space Studies, 2880 Broadway, New York, NY 10025, USA e-mail: ychen@giss.nasa.gov A. D. Del Genio NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York, NY, USA for occurrences of specific parameterized processes such as deep and shallow convection and stratiform low cloud formation to not be associated preferentially with any single cloud regime.

PDF of Publication: 
Download from publisher's website.
Research Program: 
Modeling Analysis and Prediction Program (MAP)