skip to main content
DOE PAGES title logo U.S. Department of Energy
Office of Scientific and Technical Information

Title: Ultraclean Layers and Optically Thin Clouds in the Stratocumulus-to-Cumulus Transition. Part I: Observations

Abstract

A common feature of the stratocumulus-to-cumulus transition (SCT) is the presence of layers in which the concentration of particles larger than 0.1 μm is below 10 cm–3. These ultraclean layers (UCLs) are explored using aircraft observations from 14 flights of the NSF–NCAR Gulfstream V (G-V) aircraft between California and Hawaii. UCLs are commonly located in the upper part of decoupled boundary layers, with coverage increasing from less than 5% within 500 km of the California coast to ~30%–60% west of 130°W. Most clouds in UCLs are thin, horizontally extensive layers containing drops with median volume radii ranging from 15 to 30 μm. Many UCL clouds are optically thin and do not fully attenuate the G-V lidar and yet are frequently detected with a 94-GHz radar with a sensitivity of around –30 dBZ. Satellite data indicate that UCL clouds have visible reflectances of ~0.1–0.2 and are often quasi laminar, giving them a veil-like appearance. These optically thin veil clouds exist for 1–3 h or more, are associated with mesoscale cumulus clusters, and likely grow by spreading under strong inversions. Active updrafts in cumulus (Cu) clouds have droplet concentrations of ~25–50 cm–3. Collision–coalescence in the Cu and later sedimentation in the thinnermore » UCL clouds are likely the key processes that remove droplets in UCL clouds. UCLs are relatively quiescent, and a lack of mixing with dry air above and below the cloud may help to explain their longevity. In conclusion, the very low and highly variable droplet concentrations in UCL clouds, together with their low geometrical and optical thickness, make these clouds particularly challenging to represent in large-scale models.« less

Authors:
 [1];  [1];  [1];  [1];  [2];  [2];  [3];  [3];  [4];  [5];  [5];  [6];  [7]
  1. Univ. of Washington, Seattle, WA (United States)
  2. Univ. of Miami, Miami, FL (United States)
  3. Argonne National Lab. (ANL), Lemont, IL (United States)
  4. Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison, WI (United States)
  5. Michigan Technological Univ., Houghton, MI (United States)
  6. Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Mainz (Germany)
  7. NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, VA (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Argonne National Lab. (ANL), Argonne, IL (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
National Science Foundation (NSF); USDOE Office of Science (SC), Biological and Environmental Research (BER) (SC-23). Atmospheric System Research
OSTI Identifier:
1459946
Grant/Contract Number:  
AC02-06CH11357
Resource Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 75; Journal Issue: 5; Journal ID: ISSN 0022-4928
Publisher:
American Meteorological Society
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; clouds; aerosols; cloud cover; cloud droplets; cloud microphysics; cloud radiative effects

Citation Formats

Wood, Robert, O, Kuan -Ting, Bretherton, Christopher S., Mohrmann, Johannes, Albrecht, Bruce. A., Zuidema, Paquita, Ghate, Virendra, Schwartz, Chris, Eloranta, Ed, Glienke, Susanne, Shaw, Raymond A., Fugal, Jacob, and Minnis, Patrick. Ultraclean Layers and Optically Thin Clouds in the Stratocumulus-to-Cumulus Transition. Part I: Observations. United States: N. p., 2018. Web. doi:10.1175/JAS-D-17-0213.1.
Wood, Robert, O, Kuan -Ting, Bretherton, Christopher S., Mohrmann, Johannes, Albrecht, Bruce. A., Zuidema, Paquita, Ghate, Virendra, Schwartz, Chris, Eloranta, Ed, Glienke, Susanne, Shaw, Raymond A., Fugal, Jacob, & Minnis, Patrick. Ultraclean Layers and Optically Thin Clouds in the Stratocumulus-to-Cumulus Transition. Part I: Observations. United States. doi:10.1175/JAS-D-17-0213.1.
Wood, Robert, O, Kuan -Ting, Bretherton, Christopher S., Mohrmann, Johannes, Albrecht, Bruce. A., Zuidema, Paquita, Ghate, Virendra, Schwartz, Chris, Eloranta, Ed, Glienke, Susanne, Shaw, Raymond A., Fugal, Jacob, and Minnis, Patrick. Thu . "Ultraclean Layers and Optically Thin Clouds in the Stratocumulus-to-Cumulus Transition. Part I: Observations". United States. doi:10.1175/JAS-D-17-0213.1. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1459946.
@article{osti_1459946,
title = {Ultraclean Layers and Optically Thin Clouds in the Stratocumulus-to-Cumulus Transition. Part I: Observations},
author = {Wood, Robert and O, Kuan -Ting and Bretherton, Christopher S. and Mohrmann, Johannes and Albrecht, Bruce. A. and Zuidema, Paquita and Ghate, Virendra and Schwartz, Chris and Eloranta, Ed and Glienke, Susanne and Shaw, Raymond A. and Fugal, Jacob and Minnis, Patrick},
abstractNote = {A common feature of the stratocumulus-to-cumulus transition (SCT) is the presence of layers in which the concentration of particles larger than 0.1 μm is below 10 cm–3. These ultraclean layers (UCLs) are explored using aircraft observations from 14 flights of the NSF–NCAR Gulfstream V (G-V) aircraft between California and Hawaii. UCLs are commonly located in the upper part of decoupled boundary layers, with coverage increasing from less than 5% within 500 km of the California coast to ~30%–60% west of 130°W. Most clouds in UCLs are thin, horizontally extensive layers containing drops with median volume radii ranging from 15 to 30 μm. Many UCL clouds are optically thin and do not fully attenuate the G-V lidar and yet are frequently detected with a 94-GHz radar with a sensitivity of around –30 dBZ. Satellite data indicate that UCL clouds have visible reflectances of ~0.1–0.2 and are often quasi laminar, giving them a veil-like appearance. These optically thin veil clouds exist for 1–3 h or more, are associated with mesoscale cumulus clusters, and likely grow by spreading under strong inversions. Active updrafts in cumulus (Cu) clouds have droplet concentrations of ~25–50 cm–3. Collision–coalescence in the Cu and later sedimentation in the thinner UCL clouds are likely the key processes that remove droplets in UCL clouds. UCLs are relatively quiescent, and a lack of mixing with dry air above and below the cloud may help to explain their longevity. In conclusion, the very low and highly variable droplet concentrations in UCL clouds, together with their low geometrical and optical thickness, make these clouds particularly challenging to represent in large-scale models.},
doi = {10.1175/JAS-D-17-0213.1},
journal = {Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences},
number = 5,
volume = 75,
place = {United States},
year = {2018},
month = {5}
}

Journal Article:
Free Publicly Available Full Text
Publisher's Version of Record

Citation Metrics:
Cited by: 23 works
Citation information provided by
Web of Science

Figures / Tables:

FIG. 1 FIG. 1: Longitude-height cross sections from CSET flights RF02 to RF15 showing the concentration $N_{a}$ of aerosol particles larger than 0.1 $µ$m (UHSAS) from all clear samples. Boxes highlight the presence of UCLs (blue colors). RFs 02, 04, 06, 08, 10, 12 and 14 are outbound (westward) flights, and RFsmore » 03, 05, 07, 09, 11, 13, 15 are the corresponding return (eastward) flights flown two days later. Thus RF02 and RF03 form a “mission pair” such that the RF03 flight plan was designed to resample approximately 48 hours later the air masses observed on RF02 advected using boundary layer trajectories as described in (?). The thin vertical lines show the longitudes of those air masses that were successfully sampled on both the outbound and return flights.« less

Save / Share:

Works referencing / citing this record:

The Tropical Atlantic Observing System
journal, May 2019


The Tropical Atlantic Observing System
journal, May 2019


Influence of deepening and mesoscale organization of shallow convection on stratiform cloudiness in the downstream trades
journal, November 2019

  • Vogel, Raphaela; Nuijens, Louise; Stevens, Bjorn
  • Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society, Vol. 146, Issue 726
  • DOI: 10.1002/qj.3664

Deeper, Precipitating PBLs Associated With Optically Thin Veil Clouds in the Sc-Cu Transition
journal, May 2018

  • O., Kuan-Ting; Wood, Robert; Tseng, Hsiu-Hui
  • Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 45, Issue 10
  • DOI: 10.1029/2018gl077084

The Relationships Between Cloud Top Radiative Cooling Rates, Surface Latent Heat Fluxes, and Cloud-Base Heights in Marine Stratocumulus
journal, October 2018

  • Zheng, Youtong; Rosenfeld, Daniel; Li, Zhanqing
  • Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, Vol. 123, Issue 20
  • DOI: 10.1029/2018jd028579

Characteristics of Optically Thin Coastal Florida Cumuli Derived From Surface-Based Lidar Measurements
journal, September 2018

  • Delgadillo, Rodrigo; Voss, Kenneth J.; Zuidema, Paquita
  • Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, Vol. 123, Issue 18
  • DOI: 10.1029/2018jd028867

Search for Microphysical Signatures of Stochastic Condensation in Marine Boundary Layer Clouds Using Airborne Digital Holography
journal, March 2019

  • Desai, N.; Glienke, S.; Fugal, J.
  • Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, Vol. 124, Issue 5
  • DOI: 10.1029/2018jd029033

The Interaction Between Boundary Layer and Convection Schemes in a WRF Simulation of Post Cold Frontal Clouds Over the ARM East North Atlantic Site
journal, April 2019

  • Lamraoui, Fayçal; Booth, James F.; Naud, Catherine M.
  • Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, Vol. 124, Issue 8
  • DOI: 10.1029/2018jd029370

An Efficient Method for Microphysical Property Retrievals in Vertically Inhomogeneous Marine Water Clouds Using MODIS‐CloudSat Measurements
journal, February 2019

  • Saito, Masanori; Yang, Ping; Hu, Yongxiang
  • Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, Vol. 124, Issue 4
  • DOI: 10.1029/2018jd029659

Midlatitude Oceanic Cloud and Precipitation Properties as Sampled by the ARM Eastern North Atlantic Observatory
journal, April 2019

  • Giangrande, Scott E.; Wang, Die; Bartholomew, Mary Jane
  • Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, Vol. 124, Issue 8
  • DOI: 10.1029/2018jd029667

The efficacy of aerosol–cloud radiative perturbations from near-surface emissions in deep open-cell stratocumuli
journal, January 2018

  • Possner, Anna; Wang, Hailong; Wood, Robert
  • Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, Vol. 18, Issue 23
  • DOI: 10.5194/acp-18-17475-2018

The importance of mixed-phase and ice clouds for climate sensitivity in the global aerosol–climate model ECHAM6-HAM2
journal, January 2018


Ultra-clean and smoky marine boundary layers frequently occur in the same season over the southeast Atlantic
journal, January 2020

  • Pennypacker, Sam; Diamond, Michael; Wood, Robert
  • Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, Vol. 20, Issue 4
  • DOI: 10.5194/acp-20-2341-2020