Long-term trend analysis and climatology of tropical cirrus clouds using 16 years of lidar data set over Southern India

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Pandit, A. K. ; Gadhavi, H. S. ; Venkat Ratnam, M. ; Raghunath, K. ; Rao, S. V. B. ; Jayaraman, A. (2015)

Sixteen-year (1998–2013) climatology of cirrus clouds and their macrophysical (base height, top height and geometrical thickness) and optical properties (cloud optical thickness) observed using a ground-based lidar over Gadanki (13.5° N, 79.2° E), India, is presented. The climatology obtained from the ground-based lidar is compared with the climatology obtained from 7 and a half years (June 2006–December 2013) of Cloud-Aerosol Lidar with Orthogonal Polarization (CALIOP) observations. A very good agreement is found between the two climatologies in spite of their opposite viewing geometries and the differences in sampling frequencies. Nearly 50–55 % of cirrus clouds were found to possess geometrical thickness less than 2 km. Ground-based lidar is found to detect a higher number of sub-visible clouds than CALIOP which has implications for global warming studies as sub-visible cirrus clouds have significant positive radiative forcing. Cirrus clouds with mid-cloud temperatures between −50 to −70 °C have a mean geometrical thickness greater than 2 km in contrast to the earlier reported value of 1.7 km. Trend analyses reveal a statistically significant increase in the altitude of sub-visible cirrus clouds which is consistent with the recent climate model simulations. The mid-cloud altitude of sub-visible cirrus clouds is found to be increasing at the rate of 41 ± 21 m year<sup>−1</sup>. Statistically significant decrease in optical thickness of sub-visible and thick cirrus clouds is observed. Also, the fraction of sub-visible cirrus cloud is found to have increased by 9 % in the last 16 years (1998 to 2013). This increase is mainly compensated by a 7 % decrease in thin cirrus cloud fraction. This has implications for the temperature and water vapour budget in the tropical tropopause layer.
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