The Diurnal Cycle of Cloud-Top Height and Cloud Cover over the Southeastern Pacific as Observed by GOES-10 Public Deposited

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  • The diurnal cycles in cloud-top height H[subscript top] and cloud fraction (CF) in the southeastern Pacific stratocumulus region were determined for October-November 2008 by analyzing data from Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-10 (GOES-10) according to a diurnal/semidiurnal harmonic fitting technique. The value of H[subscript top] was obtained by applying a formula based on a linear regression of the differences between GOES-10 cloud-top temperature and Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) Microwave Imager (TMI) satellite sea surface temperature, with a common 0.25 degrees x 0.25 degrees spatial resolution. A satellite liquid water path (LWP) climatology complemented this dataset. Southwestward transects of H[subscript top] and LWP anomalies reveal a coherent propagating signal from the coast in the afternoon, with a typical phase speed of 25 m s⁻¹. This pattern is preceded by a subsidence wave that reaches its peak a few hours before the maximum in H[subscript top] and LWP anomalies. Coincident increases in LWP and H[subscript top] after the subsidence wave passes suggest that the boundary layer deepening promotes cloud thickening and increased LWP, which are likely maintained through a well-mixed boundary layer and sufficient moisture fluxes that can counteract the effect of dry air entrainment. The interference between the radiatively and subsidence wave-driven cycles gives rise to a semidiurnal cycle in H[subscript top] along the coast. While the semidiurnal amplitude is near 80 m close to the coast with a fraction of explained variance greater than 0.4, it decreases to 30 m offshore (80° W). Similar to H[subscript top], CF also exhibits contrasting zonal differences, but with a smaller semidiurnal component. The phase of the semidiurnal harmonic resembles the subsidence propagation westward, and the noticeable land-sea breeze circulation at 26 degrees S that extends 200 km offshore.
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  • Painemal, D., Minnis, P., & O'Neill, L. (2013). The diurnal cycle of cloud-top height and cloud cover over the southeastern pacific as observed by GOES-10. Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences, 70(8), 2393-2408. doi:10.1175/JAS-D-12-0325.1
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  • 70
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  • 8
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  • D. Painemal is supported by the NASA Postdoctoral Program at NASA Langley Research Center, administered by Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU). P. Minnis is supported by the NASA Modeling, Analysis, and Prediction and CERES Programs and by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Atmospheric Science Program Atmospheric System Research Interagency Agreement DE-SC0000991/003. L. O’Neill is supported by Grant NNX11AF31G through NASA’s Ocean Vector Winds Science Team and an institutional fellowship through Oregon State University.
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