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The life cycle of anvil cirrus clouds from a combination of passive and active satellite remote sensing
The life cycle of anvil cirrus clouds from a combination of passive and active satellite remote sensing
Anvil cirrus clouds form in the upper troposphere from the outflow of ice crystals from deep convective cumulonimbus clouds. By reflecting incoming solar radiation as well as absorbing terrestrial thermal radiation, and re-emitting it at significantly lower temperatures, they play an important role for the Earth’s radiation budget. Nevertheless the processes that govern their life cycle are not well understood and, hence, they remain one of the largest uncertainties in atmospheric remote sensing and climate and weather modelling. In this thesis the temporal evolution of the anvil cirrus properties throughout their life cycle is investigated, as is their relationship with the meteorological conditions. For a comprehensive retrieval of the anvil cirrus properties, a new algorithm for the remote sensing of cirrus clouds called CiPS (Cirrus Properties from SEVIRI) is developed. Utilising a set of artificial neural networks, CiPS combines the large spatial coverage and high temporal resolution of the imaging radiometer SEVIRI aboard the geostationary satellites Meteosat Second Generation, with the high vertical resolution and sensitivity to thin cirrus clouds of the lidar CALIOP aboard the polar orbiting satellite CALIPSO. In comparison to CALIOP, CiPS detects 71 % and 95 % of all cirrus clouds with an ice optical thickness (IOT) of 0.1 and 1.0 respectively. Furthermore, CiPS retrieves the corresponding cloud top height, IOT, ice water path (IWP) and, by parameterisation, effective ice crystal radius. This way, macrophysical, microphysical and optical properties can be combined to interpret the temporal evolution of the anvil cirrus clouds. Together with a tool for identifying convective activity and a new cirrus tracking algorithm, CiPS is used to analyse the life cycle of 132 anvil cirrus clouds observed over southern Europe and northern Africa in July 2015. Although the anvil cirrus clouds grow optically thick during the convective phase, they become thinner at a rapid pace as convection ceases. Two hours after the last observed convective activity, 92±7 % of the anvil cirrus area has IOT_CiPS < 1 and IWP_CiPS < 30 g m−2 on average, with highest probability density around 0.1–0.2 and 1.5–3 g m−2 respectively. During the same time period, the cloud top height is observed to decrease. Since this is observed for both long-lived and short-lived anvil cirrus, it is deduced that in this life phase the amount of ice in the anvil is mainly controlled by sedimentation. This is in line with a corresponding decrease in the estimated effective radius. While the convective strength has no evident effect on the IOT and IWP, stronger vertical updraught is clearly correlated with higher cloud top height and larger effective radius. Larger ice crystals are, however, observed to be removed effectively within 2-3 h after convection has ceased, suggesting that the convective strength has no impact on the ice crystal sizes in ageing anvils. In this life stage, upper tropospheric relative humidity, as derived from ERA5 reanalysis data, is shown to have a larger impact on the anvil cirrus life cycle, where higher relative humidity govern larger and especially more long-lived anvil cirrus clouds.
satellite remote sensing, cirrus clouds, anvil cirrus, life cycle, neural networks
Strandgren, Johan
2018
English
Universitätsbibliothek der Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
Strandgren, Johan (2018): The life cycle of anvil cirrus clouds from a combination of passive and active satellite remote sensing. Dissertation, LMU München: Faculty of Physics
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Abstract

Anvil cirrus clouds form in the upper troposphere from the outflow of ice crystals from deep convective cumulonimbus clouds. By reflecting incoming solar radiation as well as absorbing terrestrial thermal radiation, and re-emitting it at significantly lower temperatures, they play an important role for the Earth’s radiation budget. Nevertheless the processes that govern their life cycle are not well understood and, hence, they remain one of the largest uncertainties in atmospheric remote sensing and climate and weather modelling. In this thesis the temporal evolution of the anvil cirrus properties throughout their life cycle is investigated, as is their relationship with the meteorological conditions. For a comprehensive retrieval of the anvil cirrus properties, a new algorithm for the remote sensing of cirrus clouds called CiPS (Cirrus Properties from SEVIRI) is developed. Utilising a set of artificial neural networks, CiPS combines the large spatial coverage and high temporal resolution of the imaging radiometer SEVIRI aboard the geostationary satellites Meteosat Second Generation, with the high vertical resolution and sensitivity to thin cirrus clouds of the lidar CALIOP aboard the polar orbiting satellite CALIPSO. In comparison to CALIOP, CiPS detects 71 % and 95 % of all cirrus clouds with an ice optical thickness (IOT) of 0.1 and 1.0 respectively. Furthermore, CiPS retrieves the corresponding cloud top height, IOT, ice water path (IWP) and, by parameterisation, effective ice crystal radius. This way, macrophysical, microphysical and optical properties can be combined to interpret the temporal evolution of the anvil cirrus clouds. Together with a tool for identifying convective activity and a new cirrus tracking algorithm, CiPS is used to analyse the life cycle of 132 anvil cirrus clouds observed over southern Europe and northern Africa in July 2015. Although the anvil cirrus clouds grow optically thick during the convective phase, they become thinner at a rapid pace as convection ceases. Two hours after the last observed convective activity, 92±7 % of the anvil cirrus area has IOT_CiPS < 1 and IWP_CiPS < 30 g m−2 on average, with highest probability density around 0.1–0.2 and 1.5–3 g m−2 respectively. During the same time period, the cloud top height is observed to decrease. Since this is observed for both long-lived and short-lived anvil cirrus, it is deduced that in this life phase the amount of ice in the anvil is mainly controlled by sedimentation. This is in line with a corresponding decrease in the estimated effective radius. While the convective strength has no evident effect on the IOT and IWP, stronger vertical updraught is clearly correlated with higher cloud top height and larger effective radius. Larger ice crystals are, however, observed to be removed effectively within 2-3 h after convection has ceased, suggesting that the convective strength has no impact on the ice crystal sizes in ageing anvils. In this life stage, upper tropospheric relative humidity, as derived from ERA5 reanalysis data, is shown to have a larger impact on the anvil cirrus life cycle, where higher relative humidity govern larger and especially more long-lived anvil cirrus clouds.