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Journal Article

Sugar, gravel, fish, and flowers: Dependence of mesoscale patterns of trade-wind clouds on environmental conditions

MPS-Authors
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Schulz,  Hauke
Tropical Cloud Observations, The Atmosphere in the Earth System, MPI for Meteorology, Max Planck Society;

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Stevens,  Bjorn
Director’s Research Group AES, The Atmosphere in the Earth System, MPI for Meteorology, Max Planck Society;

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Fulltext (public)

2019GL085988.pdf
(Publisher version), 4MB

Supplementary Material (public)

grl60093-sup-0001-text_si-s01.pdf
(Supplementary material), 4MB

Citation

Bony, S., Schulz, H., Vial, J., & Stevens, B. (2020). Sugar, gravel, fish, and flowers: Dependence of mesoscale patterns of trade-wind clouds on environmental conditions. Geophysical Research Letters, 47: e2019GL085988. doi:10.1029/2019GL085988.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0007-4EEF-6
Abstract
Trade-wind clouds exhibit a large diversity of spatial organizations at the mesoscale. Over the tropical western Atlantic, a recent study has visually identified four prominent mesoscale patterns of shallow convection, referred to as flowers, fish, gravel, and sugar. We show that these four patterns can be identified objectively from satellite observations by analyzing the spatial distribution of infrared brightness temperatures. By applying this analysis to 19 years of data, we examine relationships between cloud patterns and large-scale environmental conditions. This investigation reveals that on daily and interannual timescales, the near-surface wind speed and the strength of the lower-tropospheric stability discriminate the occurrence of the different organization patterns. These results, combined with the tight relationship between cloud patterns, low-level cloud amount, and cloud-radiative effects, suggest that the mesoscale organization of shallow clouds might change under global warming. The role of shallow convective organization in determining low-cloud feedback should thus be investigated. ©2020. The Authors.