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Water & Energy Cycles

Cirrus cloud-radiation interactions are an important aspect of the Earth's energy balance. Depending on details of their microphysical (ice water content, particle size) and macrophysical (location, altitude, physical thickness) properties cirrus can either warm or cool the earth's surface. To model climate in a warming atmosphere, details of cirrus radiative-dynamical feedbacks must be understood and accurately represented in climate models. Several recent studies have presented theories about the role of tropical cirrus in upper tropospheric radiative-dynamical feedbacks. Evaluation of these theories requires information on the vertical structure of cirrus, particularly on cloud top height and optical properties of thin tropopause cirrus overlying anvil cirrus. Detection of anvil cloud top and thin cirrus is difficult from ground based instruments because cloud radars are not sensitive enough to small crystals in tropopause cirrus and ground-based lidar instruments are often blocked by lower, optically thick clouds. Detection of thin cirrus and anvil cloud-top height from passive sensors can also be difficult because of the low optical depths of these clouds. The recently-launched CALIPSO and CloudSat satellites provide unequalled information about the characteristics of the vertical structure and overlap statistics of cirrus clouds. The existence of the other A-Train instruments provides additional information about cloud and environmental parameters that can be used to investigate proposed feedback mechanisms. We propose to use CALIPSO and CloudSat data, in combination with data from the other A-Train instruments, to explore the following science questions regarding the radiative effects of anvil and thin cirrus: - Is the temperature of cirrus anvil detrainment independent of surface temperature? - Are the existence, macrophysical, and microphysical properties of anvil cirrus and overlying thin cirrus related? - How do thin cirrus affect heating rate profiles in the TTL when overlying anvil cirrus?

Project PI: Sally McFarlane/Battelle, Pacific Northwest Division

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory PO Box 999 MSIN: K9-24 Richland, WA 99352

Email: Sally.McFarlane@pnl.gov

http://www.pnl.gov/science/staff/staff_info.asp?staff_num=5659

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Started: Aug 09, 2010

Last Activity: Dec 09, 2010

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