Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 11, 3777-3811, 2011
www.atmos-chem-phys-discuss.net/11/3777/2011/
doi:10.5194/acpd-11-3777-2011
© Author(s) 2011. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
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This discussion paper has been under review for the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP). Please refer to the corresponding final paper in ACP.
On the relationship between low cloud variability and lower tropospheric stability in the Southeast Pacific
F. Sun, A. Hall, and X. Qu
Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, University of California, 405 Hilgard Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90024, USA

Abstract. In this study, we examine observed marine low cloud variability in the southeast Pacific and its association with lower-tropospheric stability (LTS) across a spectrum of timescales. On both daily and interannual timescales, LTS and low cloud amount are very well correlated in austral summer (DJF). Meanwhile in winter (JJA), when ambient LTS increases, the LTS-low cloud relationship disintegrates. The DJF LTS-low cloud relationship also weakens in years with unusually large ambient LTS values. These are generally strong El NiƱo years, in which DJF LTS values are comparable to those typically found in JJA. Thus the LTS-low cloud relationship is strongly modulated by the seasonal cycle and the ENSO phenomenon. We also investigate the origin of LTS anomalies closely associated with low cloud variability during austral summer. We find that the ocean and atmosphere are independently involved in generating anomalies in LTS and hence variability in the southeast Pacific low cloud deck. This highlights the coupled nature of the climate system in this region, and raises the possibility of cloud feedbacks related to LTS. We conclude by addressing the implications of the observed LTS-low cloud relationship in the southeast Pacific for low cloud feedbacks in anthropogenic climate change.

Citation: Sun, F., Hall, A., and Qu, X.: On the relationship between low cloud variability and lower tropospheric stability in the Southeast Pacific, Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 11, 3777-3811, doi:10.5194/acpd-11-3777-2011, 2011.
 
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