Spatial and Temporal Variation of Boundary Layer Lapse Rate and Cloud-top-height Observed from MODIS, CALIPSO and AMSR-E over Eastern Pacific

Friday, 18 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Loknath Adhikari, Feiqin Xie and Thomas Winning, Texas A & M University Corpus Christi, Corpus Christi, TX, United States
The strong free tropospheric subsidence and the cool sea surface temperatures over the subtropical eastern Pacific Ocean often lead to a shallow and cloudy planetary boundary layer (PBL) capped by a strong inversion. These low PBL clouds are crucial for understanding the ocean-atmosphere interaction and the cloud-radiation feedback processes. However, accurate identification/representation of these clouds remains a key challenge in both satellite observations and global climate model simulations. Specifically, the cloud transition from the near-shore stratocumulus to trade-cumulus remains a huge challenge in climate models and warrants high-quality PBL observations from space.

The MODIS collection 6 cloud top height vastly improves the global PBL cloud top heights (CTH) compared to collection 5. However, the MODIS collection 6 CTH still shows systematic higher CTH than CALIPSO in the subtropical subsidence region, which is likely due to the underestimation of lapse rate. This study presents the seasonal climatology of PBL lapse rate derived from multi-year CALIPSO with co-incident MODIS CTT and AMSR-E SST measurements. The lapse rate climatology is validated by the high-resolution radiosonde observations and then used to derive the CTH from MODIS measurements. Comparison of the new lapse rate based MODIS CTH with CALIPSO CTH will be presented. The PBL height derived from the COSMIC (Constellation Observing System for Meteorology, Ionosphere, and Climate) GPS radio occultation (RO) will be used to evaluate the MODIS CTH as an independent dataset. The discrepancies over the transition from stratus to trade-cumuli regions (broken clouds) will also be discussed.