The southeast Pacific stratocumulus regime is an important component of the earth's climate system because of its substantial impact on albedo. Observational studies of this cloud regime have been limited, but during the past 5 yr, a series of cruises with research vessels equipped with in situ and remote sensing systems have provided unprecedented observations of boundary layer cloud and drizzle structures. These cruises started with the East Pacific Investigation of Climate (EPIC) 2001 field experiment, followed by cruises in a similar area in 2003 and 2004 [Pan-American Climate Studies (PACS) Stratus cruises]. The sampling from these three cruises provides a sufficient dataset to study the variability occurring over this region. This study compares observations from the 2004 cruise with those obtained during the previous two cruises. Observations from the ship provide information about boundary layer structure, fractional cloudiness, cloud depth, and drizzle characteristics. This study indicates more strongly decoupled boundary layers during the 2004 cruise than the well-mixed conditions that dominated the cloud and boundary layer structures during the EPIC cruise, and the highly variable conditions - sharp transitions from a solid stratus deck to broken-cloud and clear-sky periods - encountered during PACS Stratus 2003. Diurnal forcing and synoptic conditions are considered to be factors affecting these variations. A statistical evaluation of the macrophysical boundary layer, cloud, and drizzle properties is performed using the 5-6-day periods for which the research vessels remained stationed at the location of 20°S, 85°W during each cruise.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Atmospheric Science