Convective Cloud Ice Water Content Distribution in the Upper Tropical Troposphere
Abstract:The Cloud and Aerosol LIdar with Orthogonal Polarization (CALIOP) has been making backscatter measurements of cirrus clouds in the upper tropical troposphere and lowermost stratosphere for more than nine years. Using empirical relationships between backscatter and extinction coefficients, as well as cloud ice water content measured by aircraft, the lidar backscatter can be converted into cloud ice water content. A nine-year climatology of ice water content from CALIOP shows that the distribution of ice mass in the tropical UT/LS is dominated by convection over land, with a large longitudinal variation. There are four centers of activity for high altitude tropical convection, over South America, Africa, the Asian Monsoon region and in the tropical Western Pacific over the maritime continent.
The distribution of cloud ice water content is very different from that of cloud fraction, which includes many thin cloud layers in the TTL that do not contain much ice, and that are locally and not convectively generated. These results suggest that approaches based on zonal means, or on cloud fraction do not give an accurate accounting of the total water budget of the UT/LS, and that a regional approach is needed. It is found that "overshooting" convection likely dominates the stratospheric moistening process in specific regions and at specific times of the year. Finally, upper tropical tropospheric cloud ice mass loading is correlated with the Asian monsoon and with climate cycles such as ENSO and the QBO.