Diurnal cycle of convection, clouds, and water vapor in the tropical upper troposphere

Satellites versus a general circulation model

Baijun Tian, Brian J Soden, Xiangqian Wu

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124 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Global high-resolution (3-hourly, 0.1° × 0.1° longitude-latitude) water vapor (6.7 μ) and window (11 μ) radiances from multiple geostationary satellites are used to document the diurnal cycle of upper tropospheric relative humidity (UTH) and its relationship to deep convection and high clouds in the whole tropics and to evaluate the ability of the new Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) global atmosphere and land model (AM2/LM2) to simulate these diurnal variations. Similar to the diurnal cycle of deep convection and high clouds, coherent diurnal variations in UTH are also observed over the deep convective regions, where the daily mean UTH is high. In addition, the diurnal cycle in UTH also features a land-sea contrast: stronger over land but weaker over ocean. UTH tends to peak around midnight over ocean in contrast to 0300 LST over land. Furthermore, UTH is observed to lag high cloud cover by ∼6 hours, and the latter further lags deep convection, implying that deep convection serves to moisten the upper troposphere through the evaporation of the cirrus anvil clouds generated by deep convection. Compared to the satellite observations, AM2/LM2 can roughly capture the diurnal phases of deep convection, high cloud cover, and UTH over land; however, the magnitudes are noticeably weaker in the model. Over the oceans the AM2/LM2 has difficulty in simulating both the diurnal phase and amplitude of these quantities. These results reveal some important deficiencies in the model's convection and cloud parameterization schemes and suggest the lack of a diurnal cycle in SST may be a shortcoming in the boundary forcing for atmospheric models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research C: Oceans
Volume109
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - May 27 2004
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

Troposphere
Steam
troposphere
water vapor
humidity
general circulation model
relative humidity
Atmospheric humidity
convection
Satellites
vapors
cycles
convection clouds
cloud cover
oceans
diurnal variations
diurnal variation
anvil clouds
ocean
time lag

Keywords

  • Diurnal cycle
  • GCM
  • Satellite radiance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology

Cite this

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title = "Diurnal cycle of convection, clouds, and water vapor in the tropical upper troposphere: Satellites versus a general circulation model",
abstract = "Global high-resolution (3-hourly, 0.1° × 0.1° longitude-latitude) water vapor (6.7 μ) and window (11 μ) radiances from multiple geostationary satellites are used to document the diurnal cycle of upper tropospheric relative humidity (UTH) and its relationship to deep convection and high clouds in the whole tropics and to evaluate the ability of the new Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) global atmosphere and land model (AM2/LM2) to simulate these diurnal variations. Similar to the diurnal cycle of deep convection and high clouds, coherent diurnal variations in UTH are also observed over the deep convective regions, where the daily mean UTH is high. In addition, the diurnal cycle in UTH also features a land-sea contrast: stronger over land but weaker over ocean. UTH tends to peak around midnight over ocean in contrast to 0300 LST over land. Furthermore, UTH is observed to lag high cloud cover by ∼6 hours, and the latter further lags deep convection, implying that deep convection serves to moisten the upper troposphere through the evaporation of the cirrus anvil clouds generated by deep convection. Compared to the satellite observations, AM2/LM2 can roughly capture the diurnal phases of deep convection, high cloud cover, and UTH over land; however, the magnitudes are noticeably weaker in the model. Over the oceans the AM2/LM2 has difficulty in simulating both the diurnal phase and amplitude of these quantities. These results reveal some important deficiencies in the model's convection and cloud parameterization schemes and suggest the lack of a diurnal cycle in SST may be a shortcoming in the boundary forcing for atmospheric models.",
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author = "Baijun Tian and Soden, {Brian J} and Xiangqian Wu",
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T2 - Satellites versus a general circulation model

AU - Tian, Baijun

AU - Soden, Brian J

AU - Wu, Xiangqian

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N2 - Global high-resolution (3-hourly, 0.1° × 0.1° longitude-latitude) water vapor (6.7 μ) and window (11 μ) radiances from multiple geostationary satellites are used to document the diurnal cycle of upper tropospheric relative humidity (UTH) and its relationship to deep convection and high clouds in the whole tropics and to evaluate the ability of the new Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) global atmosphere and land model (AM2/LM2) to simulate these diurnal variations. Similar to the diurnal cycle of deep convection and high clouds, coherent diurnal variations in UTH are also observed over the deep convective regions, where the daily mean UTH is high. In addition, the diurnal cycle in UTH also features a land-sea contrast: stronger over land but weaker over ocean. UTH tends to peak around midnight over ocean in contrast to 0300 LST over land. Furthermore, UTH is observed to lag high cloud cover by ∼6 hours, and the latter further lags deep convection, implying that deep convection serves to moisten the upper troposphere through the evaporation of the cirrus anvil clouds generated by deep convection. Compared to the satellite observations, AM2/LM2 can roughly capture the diurnal phases of deep convection, high cloud cover, and UTH over land; however, the magnitudes are noticeably weaker in the model. Over the oceans the AM2/LM2 has difficulty in simulating both the diurnal phase and amplitude of these quantities. These results reveal some important deficiencies in the model's convection and cloud parameterization schemes and suggest the lack of a diurnal cycle in SST may be a shortcoming in the boundary forcing for atmospheric models.

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