An analysis of high cloud variability: imprints from the El Nio-Southern Oscillation

TitleAn analysis of high cloud variability: imprints from the El Nio-Southern Oscillation
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsLi K.F, Su H., Mak S.N, Chang T.M, Jiang J.H, Norris J.R, Yung Y.L
JournalClimate Dynamics
Date Published2017/01
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number0930-7575
Accession NumberWOS:000392307300025
Keywordscirculation; climate; Cloud fraction; Deep convection; diurnal cycle; feedback; interannual variability; isccp; model; ocean; outgoing longwave radiation; principal component analysis; Sea surface temperature; sea-surface temperature; sensitivity

Using data from the International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project (ISCCP), we examine how near-global (60A degrees N-60A degrees S) high cloud fraction varies over time in the past three decades. Our focus is on identifying dominant modes of variability and associated spatial patterns, and how they are related to sea surface temperature. By performing the principal component analysis, we find that the first two principal modes of high cloud distribution show strong imprints of the two types of El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO)-the canonical ENSO and the ENSO Modoki. Comparisons between ISCCP data and 14 models from the Atmospheric Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (AMIP5) show that models simulate the spatial pattern and the temporal variations of high cloud fraction associated with the canonical ENSO very well but the magnitudes of the canonical ENSO vary among the models. Furthermore, the multi-model mean of the second principal mode in the AMIP5 simulations appears to capture the temporal behavior of the second mode but individual AMIP5 models show large discrepancies in capturing observed temporal variations. A new metric, defined by the relative variances of the first two principal components, suggests that most of the AMIP5 models overestimate the second principal mode of high clouds.

Short TitleClim. Dyn.
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