Cloud variations under subtropical high conditions

Sha Feng, Qi Liu, Yun Fei Fu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The cloud variations under subtropical high (STH) conditions during summers over a ten-year period are studied using combined data from the International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project and the National Centers for Environmental Prediction. The results reveal that clouds mainly experience an isolated evolution in the STHs, which is designated in this study by the 1540 gpm geopotential lines at 850 hPa. In the STH domain throughout the Northern Hemisphere, the average amount of total clouds exceeds 30%. Low clouds dominate in the STH domain, contributing over 60% of total cloud amount within the Pacific subtropical high and over 40% within the Atlantic subtropical high. The prevalence of low clouds in above regions is determined by the circulation pattern around 150°-180°E and 850 hPa, which suppresses both the upward development of the cloud tops and the water vapor divergences near the surface. Furthermore, clouds present great geographical incoherence within the STH domain. In the eastern STHs, the amount of middle and low clouds increases to peak in the early morning and decreases to a trough in the afternoon, while the amount of high clouds remains stable throughout the day. Conversely, in the western STHs, the diurnal amplitude of low and middle clouds is less than three, while high clouds dramatically reach the maximum in the afternoon and drop to the minimum in the evening. Among the nine cloud categories, stratocumulus clouds with greater optical thickness account for the most under STH conditions, no matter their occurrence or amount, causing more shortwave cloud radiative forcing to cool the local atmosphere and surface as a consequence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)623-635
Number of pages13
JournalAdvances in Atmospheric Sciences
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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