Publication Abstracts

Machado and Rossow 1993

Machado, L.A.T., and W.B. Rossow, 1993: Structural characteristics and radiative properties of tropical cloud clusters. Mon. Weather Rev., 121, 3234-3260, doi:10.1175/1520-0493(1993)121<3234:SCARPO>2.0.CO;2.

By identifying individual tropical cloud clusters in eight months of ISCCP data, we examine the size distribution, average cloud properties and their variation with system size in tropical convective systems (CS). The geographic distribution of CS shows a concentration over land areas in the summer hemisphere with little seasonal variation except for the major shift of location into the summer hemisphere. When the tropics are considered as a whole or a region is considered over a whole season, CS of all sizes (from individual convective towers at 2-20 km to the largest mesoscale systems at 200-2000 km) form a continuous size distribution where the area covered by the clouds in each size range is approximately the same. Land CS shows a small excess of the smallest CS and a small deficit of the largest CS in comparison to ocean CS. Average CS cloud properties suggest two major cloud types: one with lower cloud top pressures and much higher optical thicknesses, associated with deep convection, and one with higher cloud top pressures and lower optical thicknesses, associated with the mesoscale stratiform anvil clouds. The anvil cloud properties show some evidence of a further division into optically thivker and thinner parts. The average properties of these clouds vary in a correlated fashion such that a larger horizontal extent of the convective system cloud is accompanied by a larger convective cloud top pressure, larger anvil cloud size and larger cloud optical thickness. These structural properties and their diurnal variation also suggest that the smallest CS may represesnt a mixture of the formative and dissipating stages of CS, while the medium and large sizes are, principally, the mature stage. We use a radiative transfer model to evaluate the local radiative effects of CS with average cloud properties. The results imply that the mesoscale anvil cloud reinforces the diabatic heating of the atmosphere by the convection and may help sustain these systems at night. The radiative effects of the convective cklouds, while unimportant to the total effect of the CS at the top of the atmosphere, may reinforce the diurnal variation of convection. Evaluating the radiative feedback of tropical cloudiness on climate is shown to be very difficult because of the significant diurnal and geographic variations of convective system cloud properties.

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BibTeX Citation

  author={Machado, L. A. T. and Rossow, W. B.},
  title={Structural characteristics and radiative properties of tropical cloud clusters},
  journal={Mon. Weather Rev.},

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RIS Citation

ID  - ma06200v
AU  - Machado, L. A. T.
AU  - Rossow, W. B.
PY  - 1993
TI  - Structural characteristics and radiative properties of tropical cloud clusters
JA  - Mon. Weather Rev.
VL  - 121
SP  - 3234
EP  - 3260
DO  - 10.1175/1520-0493(1993)121%3C3234%3ASCARPO%3E2.0.CO;2
ER  -

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