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JOURNAL ARTICLE

Satellite Observations of Precipitating Marine Stratocumulus Show Greater Cloud Fraction for Decoupled Clouds in Comparison to Coupled Clouds

Tom Goren, Daniel Rosenfeld, Odran Sourdeval, Johannes Quaas
Geophysical Research Letters 2018 May 28, 45 (10): 5126-5134
30034043
This study examines the relationships between marine stratocumulus clouds (MSC) coupling state with the ocean surface, their precipitation rate and fractional cloud cover (CF). This was possible by developing a novel methodology for satellite retrieval of the clouds coupling state. Decks of overcast MSC were reported in previous studies to break up often as their precipitation rate increases significantly, thus reducing CF and cloud radiative effect substantially. Here we show that decks of precipitating decoupled MSC have larger CF compared to similarly precipitating coupled MSC. The difference in CF between decoupled and coupled clouds was found to increase with precipitation rate, up to nearly doubling the CF of the heaviest precipitating decoupled MSC. This suggests that decoupling is a feature related to higher cloud radiative effect in precipitating MSC.

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