Trade-wind cumuli constitute the cloud type with the highest frequency of occurrence on Earth, and it has been shown that their sensitivity to changing environmental conditions will critically influence the magnitude and pace of future global warming. Research over the last decade has pointed out the importance of the interplay between clouds, convection and circulation in controling this sensitivity. Numerical models represent this interplay in diverse ways, which translates into different responses of trade-cumuli to climate perturbations. Climate models predict that the area covered by shallow cumuli at cloud base is very sensitive to changes in environmental conditions, while process models suggest the opposite. To understand and resolve this contradiction, we propose to organize a field campaign aimed at quantifying the physical properties of trade-cumuli (e.g., cloud fraction and water content) as a function of the large-scale environment. Beyond a better understanding of clouds-circulation coupling processes, the campaign will provide a reference data set that may be used as a benchmark for advancing the modelling and the satellite remote sensing of clouds and circulation. It will also be an opportunity for complementary investigations such as evaluating model convective parameterizations or studying the role of ocean mesoscale eddies in air–sea interactions and convective organization.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Geochemistry and Petrology