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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