PARSAX An Informal Look at Radar Technology and Applications within TU Delft

4Sep/100

The impact of drizzle on cloud lifetime

Recently it became known that researchers from Atmospheric Remote Sensing group in TU Delft (prof. dr. ir. H. Russchenberg) received the financial support for their project proposal from the Netherlands Space Office (NSO).They are going to combine ground-based and space-borne observations to look into the formation of drizzling clouds under different weather conditions. The project results will enable a better description of the impact of drizzle formation on cloud lifetime, such that it can help to better understand the role of clouds in the Earth's climate.

GO-AO/24: The impact of drizzle on cloud lifetime: an observation strategy using joint ground and satellite remote sensing

Low-level liquid water clouds highly influence the Earth's climate due to their shortwave radiative forcing, but the extent to which they relate to global warming is still under debate. Key here is a proper description of the cloud microphysical structure, lifetime and the meteorological regime. Drizzle formation is often regarded as a major factor effecting the cloud lifetime. This effect has been shown to occur under specific circumstances, e.g. maritime stratocumulus, but unambiguous evidence on a global scale has not been delivered yet. Its quantitative impact on climate change is still uncertain. 

In many satellite techniques the often occurring drizzle formation is neglected. These techniques assume that clouds are adiabatic in which droplets grow while they ascend. In drizzling clouds the droplets grow while they descend. This limits the applicability of space-based retrievals of the cloud microphysical structure. 

Drizzling clouds

Drizzling clouds

Detailed studies of the height-time structure of drizzling clouds can be performed from the ground, using remote sensing tools at so-called anchor stations. These stations are, however, not well-suited for studies of the horizontal structures. Combination with satellites is a prerequisite for obtaining a large scale overview.

In this project we will combine ground-based and space-borne observations to measure the evolution of the temporal-spatial structure of drizzling clouds under different meteorological conditions. The project results will enable a better description of the impact of drizzle formation on cloud lifetime, such that it can help to better understand the role of clouds in the Earth's climate.

NSO Office page


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