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Relationships between Marine Stratus Cloud Optical Depth and Temperature: Inferences from AVHRR Observations Public Deposited

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  • Studies using International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project (ISCCP) data have reported decreases in cloud optical depth with increasing temperature, thereby suggesting a positive feedback in cloud optical depth as climate warms. The negative cloud optical depth and temperature relationships are questioned because ISCCP employs threshold assumptions to identify cloudy pixels that have included partly cloudy pixels. This study applies the spatial coherence technique to one month of Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) data over the Pacific Ocean to differentiate overcast pixels from the partly cloudy pixels and to reexamine the cloud optical depth–temperature relationships. For low-level marine stratus clouds studied here, retrievals from partly cloudy pixels showed 30%–50% smaller optical depths, 1°–4°C higher cloud temperatures, and slightly larger droplet effective radii, when they were compared to retrievals from the overcast pixels. Despite these biases, retrievals for the overcast and partly cloudy pixels show similar negative cloud optical depth–temperature relationships and their magnitudes agree with the ISCCP results for the midlatitude and subtropical regions. There were slightly negative droplet effective radius–temperature relationships, and considerable positive cloud liquid water content–temperature relationships indicated by aircraft measurements. However, cloud thickness decreases appear to be the main reason why cloud optical depth decreases with increasing temperature. Overall, cloud thickness thinning may explain why similar negative cloud optical depth–temperature relationships are found in both overcast and partly cloudy pixels. In addition, comparing the cloud-top temperature to the air temperature at 740 hPa indicates that cloud-top height generally rises with warming. This suggests that the cloud thinning is mainly due to the ascending of cloud base. The results presented in this study are confined to the midlatitude and subtropical Pacific and may not be applicable to the Tropics or other regions
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  • Chang, Fu-Lung, James A. Coakley, 2007: Relationships between Marine Stratus Cloud Optical Depth and Temperature: Inferences from AVHRR Observations. Journal of Climate, 20, 2022–2036.
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  • This work was supported in part by the National Science Foundation through the Center for Clouds, Chemistry and Climate at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and in part through NASA Grant NNG04GM11G.
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  • description.provenance : Made available in DSpace on 2012-02-13T21:08:47Z (GMT). No. of bitstreams: 1 CoakleyJamesA.CEOAS.RelationshipsBetweenMarine.pdf: 1806955 bytes, checksum: 76a1334bb923fa7fe3a3500573bc16e1 (MD5) Previous issue date: 2007-05
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