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The vertical structure and spatial variability of lower-tropospheric water vapor and clouds in the trades

Naumann, Ann Kristin and Kiemle, Christoph (2020) The vertical structure and spatial variability of lower-tropospheric water vapor and clouds in the trades. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP), pp. 6129-6145. Copernicus Publications. doi: 10.5194/acp-20-6129-2020. ISSN 1680-7316.

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Official URL: https://www.atmos-chem-phys.net/20/6129/2020/


Horizontal and vertical variability of water vapor is omnipresent in the tropics but its interaction with cloudiness poses challenges for weather and climate models. In this study we compare airborne lidar measurements from a summer and a winter field campaign in the tropical Atlantic with high-resolution simulations to analyse the water vapor distributions in the trade wind regime, its covariation with cloudiness and their representation in simulations. Across model grid spacing from 300 m to 2.5 km, the simulations show good skill in reproducing the water vapor distribution in the trades as measured by the lidar. An exception to this is a pronounced moist model bias at the top of the shallow cumulus layer in the dry winter season which is accompanied by a too weak gradient at the inversion near the cloud top. The model’s underestimation of water vapor variability in the cloud and subcloud layer occurs in both seasons but is less pronounced than the moist model bias at the inversion. Despite the model’s insensitivity to resolution from hecto- to kilometer scale for the distribution of water vapor, cloud fraction decreases strongly with increasing model resolution and is not converged at hectometer grid spacing. The observed cloud deepening with increasing water vapor path is captured well across model resolution but the concurrent transition from cloud-free to low cloud fraction is better represented at hectometer resolution. In particular, in the wet summer season the simulations with kilometer-scale resolution overestimate the observed cloud fraction near the inversion but lack condensate near the observed cloud base. This illustrates how a model’s ability to properly capture the water vapor distribution does not need to translate into an adequate representation of shallow cumulus clouds that live at the tail of the water vapor distribution.

Item URL in elib:https://elib.dlr.de/135055/
Document Type:Article
Title:The vertical structure and spatial variability of lower-tropospheric water vapor and clouds in the trades
AuthorsInstitution or Email of AuthorsAuthor's ORCID iD
Naumann, Ann KristinMPI für Meteorologie, HamburgUNSPECIFIED
Kiemle, ChristophDLR, IPAhttps://orcid.org/0000-0003-1231-2813
Date:May 2020
Journal or Publication Title:Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP)
Refereed publication:Yes
Open Access:Yes
Gold Open Access:Yes
In ISI Web of Science:Yes
DOI :10.5194/acp-20-6129-2020
Page Range:pp. 6129-6145
Publisher:Copernicus Publications
Keywords:shallow convection, trade clouds, water vapor lidar, ICON model
HGF - Research field:Aeronautics, Space and Transport
HGF - Program:Space
HGF - Program Themes:Earth Observation
DLR - Research area:Raumfahrt
DLR - Program:R EO - Earth Observation
DLR - Research theme (Project):R - LIDAR research and development
Location: Oberpfaffenhofen
Institutes and Institutions:Institute of Atmospheric Physics > Lidar
Deposited By: Kiemle, Dr.rer.nat. Christoph
Deposited On:26 May 2020 13:56
Last Modified:26 May 2020 13:56

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