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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2019-830
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2019-830
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 10 Oct 2019

Submitted as: research article | 10 Oct 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP).

A new classification of satellite derived liquid water cloud regimes at cloud scale

Claudia Unglaub1, Karoline Block1, Johannes Mülmenstädt1, Odran Sourdeval1,a, and Johannes Quaas1 Claudia Unglaub et al.
  • 1Universität Leipzig, Institute for Meteorology, Stephanstr. 3, 04103 Leipzig, Germany
  • anow at: Université de Lille, Lille, France

Abstract. Clouds are highly variable in time and space affecting climate sensitivity and climate change. To study and distinguish the different influences of clouds on the climate system it is useful to separate clouds into individual cloud regimes. In this work we present a new cloud classification for liquid water clouds at cloud scale defined using cloud parameters retrieved from combined satellite measurements from CloudSat and CALIPSO. The idea is that cloud heterogeneity is a measure that allows to distinguish cumuliform and stratiform clouds, and cloud base height a measure to distinguish cloud altitude. The approach makes use of a newly-developed cloud-base height retrieval. Using three cloud base height intervals and two intervals of cloud top variability as an inhomogeneity parameter provides six new liquid cloud classes. The results show a smooth transition between marine and continental clouds as well as between stratiform and cumuliform clouds in different latitudes at the high spatial resolution of about 20 km. Analyzing the micro- and macrophysical cloud parameters from collocated combined MODIS, CloudSat and CALIPSO retrievals shows distinct characteristics for each cloud regimes that are in agreement with expectation and literature. This demonstrates the usefulness of the classification.

Claudia Unglaub et al.
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Claudia Unglaub et al.
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Short summary
In cloud research, it is necessary to classify clouds. The World Meteorological Organisation proposes to distinguish stratiform and cumuliform clouds in three altitude layers. The paper explains why previous approaches to classify clouds fail for many applications and proposes a new classification on the basis of new approaches for satellite retrievals to derive cloud base height, in combination with cloud inhomogeneity. It is demonstrated that this well discriminates cloud characteristics.
In cloud research, it is necessary to classify clouds. The World Meteorological Organisation...
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