Investigation of the diurnal variation of marine boundary layer cloud microphysical properties at the Azores

Xiquan Dong, Baike Xi, Peng Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


A new method has been developed to retrieve the nighttime marine boundary layer (MBL) cloud microphysical properties, which provides a complete 19-month dataset to investigate the diurnal variation of MBL cloud microphysical properties at the Azores. Compared to the corresponding daytime results presented in the authors' previous study over the Azores region, all nighttime monthly means of cloud liquid water path (LWP) exceed their daytime counterparts with an annual-mean LWP of 140 gm-2, which is ~30.9 gm-2 larger than daytime. Because the MBL clouds are primarily driven by convective instabilities caused by cloud-top longwave (LW) radiative cooling, more MBL clouds are well mixed and coupled with the surface during the night; thus, its cloud layer is deeper and its LWP is higher. During the day, the cloud layer is warmed by the absorption of solar radiation and partially offsets the cloud-top LW cooling, which makes the cloud layer thinner with less LWP. The seasonal and diurnal variations of cloud LWC and optical depth basically follow the variation of LWP. There are, however, no significant day-night differences and diurnal variations in cloud-droplet effective radius (re), number concentration (Nd), and corresponding surface measured cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) number concentration (NCCN) (at supersaturation S = 0.2%). Surface NCCN increases from around sunrise (0300-0600 LT) to late afternoon, which strongly correlates with surface wind speed (r = 0.76) from 0300 to 1900 LT. The trend in hourly-mean Nd is consistent with NCCN variation from 0000 to 0900 LT but not for afternoon and evening with an averaged ratio (Nd/NCCN) of 0.35 during the entire study period.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8827-8835
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Climate
Issue number23
StatePublished - 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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