Cloud albedo control by cloud-top entrainment

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Marine stratus and stratocumulus clouds exert a considerable influence on the Earth's heat budget, mainly due to their high albedos relative to the ocean surface. It is therefore important to understand the processes that control the radiative properties of these extensive cloud systems, particularly during daylight hours. Aircraft measurements of a stratocumulus cloud deck taken around local noon during the 1987 field phase of the First International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project Regional Experiment are the topic of this paper. A mixing line analysis of data from a series of flight tracks across a strong gradient in cloud albedo provides evidence that variations in the water vapour content of the air above the marine inversion can be responsible for the albedo change. The implications of this unexpected result for climate modelling are discussed.DOI: 10.1034/j.1600-0870.1991.00004.x
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