Observations of marine stratocumulus in SE Pacific during the PACS 2003 cruise

Pavlos Kollias, Christopher W. Fairall, Paquita Zuidema, Jason Tomlinson, Gary A. Wick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


In November 2003, the NOAA Environmental Technology Laboratory (ETL) conducted measurements of Marine Boundary Layer (MBL) stratocumulus clouds, thermodynamic structure, surface fluxes and meteorology in the southeastern Pacific stratocumulus region. The observations were part of a field program to replace the WHOI Ocean Reference Station buoy at 20 S Latitude 85 W Longitude. During the cruise the MBL structure was characterized by a strong capping inversion, periods with well mixed conditions and marine stratus, clear sky periods and periods with moderate vertical gradients of potential temperature and mixing ratio that overlap with periods of small cloud fractional coverage, decoupled layers and low cloud base shallow cumuli clouds. The lifting condensation level (LCL) showed strong variability consistent with the variability of the MBL. Clouds with thickness more that 250 in had drizzle below the cloud base especially during nighttime. Large periods of clear skies were observed at the buoy location, especially just after the solar flux maximum. The aerosol size distribution measurements generally exhibited a bimodal structure. However, abrupt changes in the aerosol size distribution were also recorded, corresponding either with the presence of drizzle (and a depletion of the accumulation mode) or the presence of clear skies (and an increase in the Aitken mode). The stratocumulus observed during the 5-day station at the buoy location revealed a far more complex picture from the one captured during the East Pacific Investigation of Climate (EPIC) cruise to this same location in 2001.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-4
Number of pages4
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number22
StatePublished - Nov 28 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • 0305 Atmospheric Composition and Structure: Aerosols and particles (0345, 4801)
  • 0320 Atmospheric Composition and Structure: Cloud physics and chemistry
  • 3307 Meteorology and Atmospheric Dynamics: Boundary layer processes
  • 3339 Meteorology and Atmospheric Dynamics: Ocean/atmosphere interactions (0312, 4504)
  • 3374 Meteorology and Atmospheric Dynamics: Tropical meteorology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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