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Schmidt, JM, Flatau PJ, Harasti PR, Yates RD, Littleton R, Pritchard MS, Fischer JM, Fischer EJ, Kohri WJ, Vetter JR, Richman S, Baranowski DB, Anderson MJ, Fletcher E, Lando DW.  2012.  Radar observations of individual rain drops in the free atmosphere. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 109:9293-9298.   10.1073/pnas.1117776109   AbstractWebsite

Atmospheric remote sensing has played a pivotal role in the increasingly sophisticated representation of clouds in the numerical models used to assess global and regional climate change. This has been accomplished because the underlying bulk cloud properties can be derived from a statistical analysis of the returned microwave signals scattered by a diverse ensemble comprised of numerous cloud hydrometeors. A new Doppler radar, previously used to track small debris particles shed from the NASA space shuttle during launch, is shown to also have the capacity to detect individual cloud hydrometeors in the free atmosphere. Similar to the traces left behind on film by subatomic particles, larger cloud particles were observed to leave a well-defined radar signature (or streak), which could be analyzed to infer the underlying particle properties. We examine the unique radar and environmental conditions leading to the formation of the radar streaks and develop a theoretical framework which reveals the regulating role of the background radar reflectivity on their observed characteristics. This main expectation from theory is examined through an analysis of the drop properties inferred from radar and in situ aircraft measurements obtained in two contrasting regions of an observed multicellular storm system. The observations are placed in context of the parent storm circulation through the use of the radar's unique high-resolution waveforms, which allow the bulk and individual hydrometeor properties to be inferred at the same time.

Collins, WD, Valero FPJ, Flatau PJ, Lubin D, Grassl H, Pilewskie P.  1996.  Radiative effects of convection in the tropical Pacific. Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres. 101:14999-15012.   10.1029/95jd02534   AbstractWebsite

The radiative effects of tropical clouds at the tropopause and the ocean surface have been estimated by using in situ measurements from the Central Equatorial Pacific Experiment (CEPEX). The effect of clouds is distinguished from the radiative effects of the surrounding atmosphere by calculating the shortwave and longwave cloud forcing. These terms give the reduction in insolation and the increase in absorption of terrestrial thermal emission associated with clouds. At the tropopause the shortwave and longwave cloud forcing are nearly equal and opposite, even on daily timescales. Therefore the net effect of an ensemble of convective clouds is small compared to other radiative terms in the surface-tropospheric heat budget. This confirms the statistical cancellation of cloud forcing observed in Earth radiation budget measurements from satellites. At the surface the net effect of clouds is to reduce the radiant energy absorbed by the ocean. Under deep convective clouds the diurnally averaged reduction exceeds 150 W m(-2). The divergence of flux in the cloudy atmosphere can be estimated from the difference in cloud forcing at the surface and tropopause. The CEPEX observations show that the atmospheric cloud forcing is nearly equal and opposite to the surface forcing. Based upon the frequency of convection, the atmospheric forcing approaches 100 W m(-2) when the surface temperature is 303 K. The cloud forcing is closely related to the frequency of convective cloud systems. This relation is used in conjunction with cloud population statistics derived from satellite to calculate the change in surface cloud forcing with sea surface temperature. The net radiative cooling of the surface by clouds increases at a rate of 20 W m(-2)K(-1)during the CEPEX observing period.