Advancing understanding of the coupling between clouds, convection and circulation 

The uncertain response of clouds to global warming is a major contributor to the spread in climate sensitivity across climate models. Cloud feedback uncertainty is related to a limited understanding of the coupling between clouds, convection and the large-scale circulation across various spatial and temporal scales. This session focuses on efforts to advance our understanding of the cloud-circulation coupling and its role in climate change. Contributions from dedicated field campaigns such as EUREC4A, from various observing platforms like ground-based and satellite remote sensing or in situ measurements, as well as modelling and theoretical studies are welcomed. We also invite abstracts focusing on the role of convective organization and precipitation in modulating the cloud-circulation coupling and cloud feedbacks.

Convener: Raphaela VogelECSECS | Co-conveners: Claudia AcquistapaceECSECS, Leif DenbyECSECS, Marcus Klingebiel, Isabel L. McCoyECSECS
vPICO presentations
| Tue, 27 Apr, 11:00–15:00 (CEST)

Session assets

Session summary

vPICO presentations: Tue, 27 Apr

Chairpersons: Claudia Acquistapace, Leif Denby, Raphaela Vogel
Cloud-circulation coupling
Anna Mackie and Michael P. Byrne

Uncertainty in the response of clouds to warming remains a significant barrier to reducing the range in projected climate sensitivity. A key question is to what extent cloud feedbacks can be attributed to changes in circulation, such as the strengthening or weakening of ascent or changes in the areas of convecting vs subsiding air. Previous research has shown that, in general circulation models (GCMs), the ‘dynamic’ component of the cloud feedback – that which is due to changes in circulation rather than changes in the thermodynamic properties of clouds (Bony et al., 2006) – is generally small (Byrne and Schneider, 2018). An open question, however, is whether this extends to models at cloud resolving resolutions that explicitly simulate deep convection.  

Here, we utilize simulations from the Radiative-Convective Equilibrium Model Intercomparison Project (RCEMIP, Wing et al., 2018, 2020) to quantify the impact of circulation on tropical cloud feedbacks. RCE is a simple idealisation of the tropical atmosphere and we focus on simulations in a long channel configuration with uniform sea surface temperatures of 295, 300 and 305K. The dynamic component of the total cloud feedback is substantial for this suite of cloud resolving models (CRMs), and is driven by circulation changes and nonlinearity in the climatological relationship between clouds and circulation. The large spread in dynamic component across models is linked to the extent to which convection strengthens and narrows with warming. This strengthening/narrowing of convective regions is further linked to changes in clear-sky radiative cooling and mid-tropospheric static stability in subsiding regions. 


How to cite: Mackie, A. and Byrne, M. P.: Impact of circulation on tropical cloud feedbacks in cloud resolving models , EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-2669,, 2021.

Francesca Morris, Juliane Schwendike, Doug Parker, and Caroline Bain

This work examines the representation of convection-circulation coupling over tropical West Africa in convection-permitting models. Tropical West Africa is not only a region characterised by extremely high-impact weather, in the form of intense and frequent organised convection, but it is also a region of strong baroclinicity and wind shear, and therefore an excellent natural laboratory for examining the connections between mesoscale convection and synoptic circulations. Developing understanding ofconvection-circulation coupling is crucial to informing development of convection parameterisations and improving regional forecasts of high-impact weather.

We evaluate output from the CP4-Africa configuration of the Met Office Unified Model to investigate links between convective activity and synoptic motions. To illustrate its strengths in representing convection-circulation feedbacks, CP4 output is compared to that from a similar UM configuration which uses a convection parameterisation.

We examine the mean diurnal cycle of circulation during the storm season. Distinct diurnal patterns in circulation tendency are compared to patterns in updraughts and precipitation, which illustrate different forms of convection which can be observed at different points during the day. A “congestus” mode convects up to around the freezing level from morning until early evening, while deep organised convection triggers in the mid-to-late afternoon and persists overnight. The two forms of convection appear to cause characteristically different responses in the synoptic circulation.

To confirm which physical processes cause changes to circulation in the region, we calculate terms in the circulation tendency equation. Separating these terms into mean and eddy-flux contributions allows us to establish the extent to which mesoscale systems and synoptic structures each influence the diurnal changes to circulation.

How to cite: Morris, F., Schwendike, J., Parker, D., and Bain, C.: Convection-circulation interactions over West Africa in simulations with explicit and parameterised convection, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-2088,, 2021.

Sara Müller, Maxi Boettcher, Leonie Villiger, and Franziska Aemisegger

Intrusions of dry upper-level extratropical air into the tropics play an important role in shaping the synoptic time-scale variability of the low-level cloud cover over the tropical oceans. In this study, we present a detailed Lagrangian analysis of an extratropical dry intrusion in the western North Atlantic, which occurred in January-February 2018. During this period, the easterly trade winds were interrupted for several days by coherent packages of rapidly descending air parcels reaching from the mid-latitude jet stream region into the sub-cloud layer close to Barbados. As those air parcels are anomalously dry and cold, they have a notable impact on diabatic processes in the vicinity of the trade wind cloud tops such as longwave cooling and cloud evaporation and sublimation. To quantify the Lagrangian heat budget along the dry intrusion, we performed a simulation with the Integrated Forecasting System (IFS, 0.4° horizontal resolution, 137 vertical levels) from the European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) with diabatic heating rate (DHR) output. We calculated back-trajectories based on hourly three-dimensional wind fields and analysed the DHR along the dry intrusion air parcels. In the first part of their descent from the mid-tropospheric jet stream region, the dry intrusion air parcels’ heat budget is dominated by adiabatic warming. In the second part of their descent, they experience strong diabatic cooling at cloud tops, due to microphysical and radiative processes. This leads to cross-isentropic flow, which allows these air parcels to pass through the inversion and to penetrate into the boundary layer. Thereafter they experience strong diabatic warming by turbulent fluxes. The presented detailed case study thus illustrates, how the rapidly subsiding extratropical dry intrusion air interacts with the parametrised subgrid-scale processes at cloud top in the model, thereby affecting the thermodynamic conditions in the boundary layer.

How to cite: Müller, S., Boettcher, M., Villiger, L., and Aemisegger, F.: Diabatic processes associated with an extratropical dry intrusion reaching into the western North Atlantic trade wind region, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-2260,, 2021.

Claudia Stephan and Alexis Mariaccia

How convection couples to mesoscale vertical motion and what determines these motions is poorly understood. We diagnose profiles of area-averaged mesoscale divergence from measurements of horizontal winds collected by an extensive upper-air sounding network of a recent campaign over the western tropical North Atlantic, the Elucidating the Role of Clouds-Circulation Coupling in Climate (EUREC4A) campaign. Observed area-averaged divergence amplitudes scale approximately inversely with area equivalent radius. This functional dependence is also confirmed in reanalysis data and a global freely-evolving simulation run at 2.5 km horizontal resolution. Based on the numerical data it is demonstrated that the energy spectra of inertia gravity waves can explain the scaling of divergence amplitudes with area. At individual times, however, few waves can dominate the region. Nearly monochromatic tropospheric waves are diagnosed in the soundings by means of an optimized hodograph analysis. For one day, results suggest that an individual wave directly modulated the satellite observed cloud pattern. However, because such immediate wave impacts are rare, the systematic modulation of vertical motion due to inertia-gravity waves may be more relevant as a convection-modulating factor. We propose an analytic relationship between energy spectra and divergence amplitudes, which, if confirmed by future studies, could be used to design better external forcing methods for regional models.

How to cite: Stephan, C. and Mariaccia, A.: The signature of the tropospheric gravity wave background in observed mesoscale motion, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-416,, 2021.

Geet George, Bjorn Stevens, Sandrine Bony, and Raphaela Vogel

We use measurements from the Elucidating the role of clouds-circulation coupling in climate (EUREC4A) campaign to characterise the variability in the meso-scale divergence and vertical motion (pressure velocity, 𝜔) ranging across time-scales from a few hours to a month (the entire campaign period from 19th January - 15th February, 2020). The area-averaged divergence is estimated using measurements of horizontal winds from dropsondes launched in a circular flight path (~200 km diameter), something that was carried out extensively during EUREC4A – 85 circles over 19 flight-days in the North Atlantic trade-wind region.

From these estimates, we characterise the vertical structure and variability of divergence and 𝜔 in the trades. We find that 𝜔 above the sub-cloud layer is quite consistent vertically when averaged over long periods. The value stays around 1-1.5 hPa/h, which agrees well with the roughly 1.5 K/day cooling rate of the trades. However, significant intra- and inter-day variability can be found between 𝜔 profiles, in terms of the magnitudes, ranging from -7 hPa/h to 6 hPa/h as well as in terms of the vertical structure of these profiles. Daily mean sub-cloud layer divergence varies significantly from that of the cloud-layer in magnitude, and for most flight days, we also observe a sign change between the two. Changes in the vertical structure over different days suggest that a local maximum of either divergence or convergence is usually seen near the inversion layer. Our findings can provide insight into how the atmospheric state varies over short time-scales, as well as their impact on cloudiness, thus providing clues about a predominantly important question in climate science — the clouds-circulation coupling.

How to cite: George, G., Stevens, B., Bony, S., and Vogel, R.: The vertical structure and variability of the meso-scale motion field in the trades, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-16069,, 2021.

Boundary layer (thermo-)dynamics
Nicolas Maury, Gregory Roberts, Fleur Couvreux, Titouan Verdu, Pierre Narvor, Florian Seguin, Simon Lacroix, Gautier Hattenberger, and Gregoire Cayez

Trade wind cumulus clouds have a significant impact on the earth's radiative balance, due to their extensive coverage in subtropical regions but due to their characteristic size are still parameterized.
The feedback of low clouds on the climate system as well as biases still existing in their representation of Global Climate Models (GCMs) results in a climatic response with relatively large uncertainty and induce a significant divergence in GCMs. Many studies and campaigns have focused on a better understanding of the thermodynamic and macroscopic properties of cumulus clouds with ground-based and satellite-based remote sensing
and also in-situ observations from aircraft flights, but few provide information on the three-dimensional properties of individual cumulus clouds. Our understanding of cumulus clouds is also based on high-resolution numerical simulations (LES: 25m, 5m of resolution) that reproduce the
average characteristics of cumulus clouds fairly reliably, yet these simulations still depend on parametrizations (turbulence and microphysics).
The development of a fleet the sampling of RPAs (Remotely Piloted Aircraft) contributes to the increase in the resolution of the sampling of the evolution of cloud microphysical properties. Recent studies have permitted to have an autonomous adaptive sampling and a mapping using Gaussian
Process Regression to interpolate missed values during exploration.
An experimental strategy has been developed and tested in a cumulus cloud field simulated in a LES simulation with the Meso-NH model by implementing a simulator of RPA flights. During the EUREC4A field campaign in Barbados in January-February, more than forty RPAs flights have been conducted and thermodynamic properties of cumulus clouds were studied in three dimensions using miniaturized instruments installed on-board (PTU probe, cloud sensor). We validate first the results of cloud sensor with an other microphysics instrument. Several clouds were followed for about ten minutes and their thermodynamic evolution have been compared to cumulus clouds simulated in the LES.

How to cite: Maury, N., Roberts, G., Couvreux, F., Verdu, T., Narvor, P., Seguin, F., Lacroix, S., Hattenberger, G., and Cayez, G.: Study of thermodynamic properties of trade-wind cumulus clouds with Remotely Piloted Aircrafts during the EUREC4A field campaign, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-8698,, 2021.

Gijs de Boer, Radiance Calmer, Steven Borenstein, Christopher Choate, Michael Rhodes, Jonathan Hamilton, Christopher Cox, Brian Argrow, and Janet Intrieri

During the 2020 Atlantic Tradewind Ocean-Atmosphere Mesoscale Interaction Campaign (ATOMIC) and ElUcidating the Role of Cloud- Circulation Coupling in ClimAte (EUREC4A) field campaigns, a team from the University of Colorado Boulder deployed the RAAVEN Remotely-Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS). The RAAVEN RPAS was equipped with the miniFlux measurement system to observe the marine boundary layer upwind of Morgan Lewis, Barbados.  Over the course of 23 days, the team completed 39 flights covering nearly 80 flight hours.  Flights were conducted in and just above the boundary layer at altitudes between 10 and 1000 m, with a focus on capturing regular thermodynamic and kinematic profiles of the lower atmosphere, along with statistics on vertical transport and spatial variability.  In this presentation, we will give initial details on the observed state of the lower atmosphere.  This includes information on the structure and internal variability of thermodynamic and kinematic properties, turbulence intensity, turbulent surface fluxes and their variability, and details on the structure of vertical velocities in the lower atmosphere.

How to cite: de Boer, G., Calmer, R., Borenstein, S., Choate, C., Rhodes, M., Hamilton, J., Cox, C., Argrow, B., and Intrieri, J.: In situ observations of the near-shore atmospheric boundary layer during ATOMIC/EUREC4A from small Uncrewed Aircraft Systems  , EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-12635,, 2021.

Anna Lea Albright, Sandrine Bony, Bjorn Stevens, and Raphaela Vogel

The trades form an important link in the atmospheric energy supply, transporting moisture and momentum to the deep tropics and influencing the global hydrological cycle. Trade-wind cumuli are the most ubiquitous cloud type over tropical oceans, yet models disagree in simulating their response to warming. Our study takes advantage of extensive in-situ soundings performed during the EUREC4A campaign, which took place in the downstream trades of the North Atlantic in winter 2020. We employ 1068 dropsondes made in a ca. 2deg x 2deg area to close the moisture and energy budgets of the subcloud layer and atmospheric column. Our motivation for closing moisture and energy budgets using EUREC4A data is two-fold. First, we try to understand which large-scale environmental factors control variability in subcloud layer moisture and moist static energy, given their influence on setting convective potential. Second, we quantify the interplay between clouds and their environment through an energetic lens. The cloud radiative effect emerges as a residual from the total column moist static energy budget, yielding an energetic estimate of clouds. We quantify how this cloud radiative effect compares with coincident satellite and geometric (i.e. cloud fraction) estimates of cloudiness, varies on different scales, and relates to large-scale environmental conditions.

How to cite: Albright, A. L., Bony, S., Stevens, B., and Vogel, R.: Quantifying the interplay of clouds and their environment through an energetic lens during EUREC4A, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-5095,, 2021.

Sabrina Schnitt, Ulrich Löhnert, and René Preusker

Continuous, high vertical resolution water vapor profile measurements are key for advancing the understanding of how clouds interact with their environment through convection, precipitation and circulation processes.  Yet, current ground-based observation systems are limited by low temporal resolution in the case of soundings, signal saturation at cloud base in the case of optical sensors, or too coarse vertical resolution in the case of passive microwave measurements. Overcoming the limitations of each single sensor, we assess the synergistic benefits of combining ground-based microwave radiometer (MWR) and the novel Differential Absorption Radar technique, based on synthetic measurements generated for typical trade wind conditions as observed during the EUREC4A field study.

Based on the single and multiple cloud layer conditions observed at Barbados Cloud Observatory, we use the passive and active microwave transfer model PAMTRA to generate synthetic measurements of the K-band MWR channels, as well as for a G-band dual-frequency radar instrument operating at frequencies of 167 and 174.8 GHz.  The synthetic brightness temperatures and radar dual-frequency ratios are combined in an optimal estimation framework to retrieve the absolute humidity profile. Varying the observation vector setup, the synergy benefits are assessed by comparing the synergistic information content (Degrees of Freedom for Signal, DFS) and retrieval errors to the respective single-instrument configuration, and by evaluating the retrieved profile using the initial sounding profile.

In single-cloud conditions, the total synergistic retrieval information content increases by more than one DFS compared to a MWR-only retrieval. While the radar measurements dominate the retrieval below and throughout the cloud layer, the MWR drives the retrieval above the cloud layer. The synergy further enhances the information content above the cloud layer by up to 15% compared to the MWR-only retrieval, accompanied by decreased retrieval errors of up to 10%. Cases of a shallow cloud layer topped by a stratiform outflow confirm the identified patterns. The radar measurements further increase the information content between the cloud layers by up to 25%. In this case, the results suggest an improved partitioning of the water vapor amount below and above the trade inversion. 

Current G-band radar signal attenuation in moist tropical conditions are expected to reduce the feasible synergy potential in a real application. Yet, increased radar signal sensitivities, adjusted frequency pairs, or drier atmospheric conditions motivate the application of this synergy concept to real measurements for advancing ground-based water vapor profiling in cloudy conditions.

How to cite: Schnitt, S., Löhnert, U., and Preusker, R.: Simulating the synergy of microwave radiometer and differential absorption radar for advancing water vapor profiling in cloudy trade-wind conditions, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-9100,, 2021.

Marcel Schröder, Freja Nordsiek, Oliver Schlenczek, Antonio Ibañez Landeta, Johannes Güttler, Gholamhossein Bagheri, and Eberhard Bodenschatz

To investigate cloud microphysics and turbulence in clouds and in the atmospheric boundary layer, we specially developed airborne platforms, one Max-Planck-CloudKite + (MPCK+) and two mini-Max-Planck-CloudKites (mini-MPCK). They are deployed aboard balloon-kite hybrids conducting in situ measurements of meteorological and cloud microphysical properties with high spatial and temporal resolution. During the EUREC4A-ATOMIC field campaign in the Caribbean January-February 2020, the MPCK+ and one mini-MPCK sampled clouds aboard a 250 m3 aerostat launched from the R.V. Maria S. Merian where both instruments were operated between MSL and 1500m MSL. In addition, one mini-MPCK profiled the atmosphere between MSL and 1000 m MSL aboard a 74 m3 aerostat launched from the R.V. Meteor. In total, we acquired 145 h of flight-data on RV Maria S. Merian and 52 h of flight-data on RV Meteor. For the MPCK+, this included 5 hr of Particle Image Velocimetry data and 3 hr of inline holography data inside clouds and near the cloud edges. We present in situ data measured by the MPCKs during the EUREC4A-ATOMIC field campaign and report on preliminary assessment of turbulence features.

How to cite: Schröder, M., Nordsiek, F., Schlenczek, O., Ibañez Landeta, A., Güttler, J., Bagheri, G., and Bodenschatz, E.: Airborne Atmospheric Measurements with the Max Planck CloudKites, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-11608,, 2021.

Pierre-Etienne Brilouet, Marie Lothon, and Sandrine Bony

Tradewind clouds can exhibit a wide diversity of mesoscale organizations, and the turbulence of marine atmospheric boundary layer (MABL) can exhibit coherent structures and mesoscale circulations. One of the objectives of the EUREC4A (Elucidating the role of cloud-circulation coupling in climate) field experiment was to better understand the tight interplay between the mesoscale organization of clouds, boundary-layer processes, and the large-scale environment.

During the experiment, that took place East of Barbados over the Western Tropical Atlantic Ocean in Jan-Feb 2020, the French ATR-42 research aircraft was devoted to the characterization of the cloud amount and of the subcoud layer structure. During its 17 research flights, it sampled a large diversity of large scale conditions and cloud patterns. Multiple sensors onboard the aircraft measured high-frequency fluctuations of potential temperature, water vapour mixing ratio and wind , allowing for an extensive characterization of the turbulence within the subcloud layer. A quality-controled and calibrated turbulence dataset was produced on the basis of these measurements, which is now available on the EUREC4A AERIS data portal.

The MABL turbulent structure is studied using this dataset, through a spectral analysis of the vertical velocity. Vertical profiles of characteristic length scales reveal a non-isotropic structure with a stretching of the eddies along the mean wind. The organization strength of the turbulent field is also explored by defining a diagnostic based on the shape of the vertical velocity spectrum. The structure and the degree of organization of the subcloud layer are characterized for different types of mesoscale convective pattern and as a function of the large-scale environment, including near-surface wind and lower-tropospheric stability conditions.


How to cite: Brilouet, P.-E., Lothon, M., and Bony, S.: How is the marine atmospheric boundary layer turbulence organized in the trades ?, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-12339,, 2021.

Diego Lange, Andreas Behrendt, Christoph Senff, Florian Späth, and Volker Wulfmeyer

During the EUREC4A campaign (Bony et al., 2017, Stevens et al, 2020), a unique combination of lidar systems was operated to study ocean-atmosphere interaction on the German research vessel R/V Maria S Merian between 18 January and 18 February 2020. These systems observed the maritime boundary layer (MBL) and its relation to cloud development in the trade wind alley east of Barbados and in the "Boulevard des Tourbillons" east of Venezuela with turbulence resolving resolution.

For this purpose, for the first time, the Atmospheric Raman Temperature and Humidity Sounder (ARTHUS) (Lange et al. 2019; Lange et al. this conference) was operated on a shipborne platform in vertically staring mode. This system is capable of measuring water-vapor, temperature, and aerosol profiles with unprecedented resolution of 7.5 m and 10 s in the lower troposphere. ARTHUS was combined with one Doppler lidar in vertically staring mode and a second one in a 6-beam scanning mode.

For studying the above mentioned processes, a data set was collected, which includes profiles of water vapor mixing ratio, temperature, relative humidity, vertical and horizontal wind as well as the statistics of higher-order moments of these parameters. Synergetic parameters from the combination of the data are turbulent kinetic energy (TKE), momentum flux, dissipation rate, sensible and latent heat flux profiles (Behrendt et al. 2020). At the conference, highlights of the measurements will be presented which show the dependence of cloud evolution on sea surface temperature and MBL properties as well as the interaction with the trade wind layer.




Behrendt et al. 2020,

Bony et al. 2017,

Lange et al. 2019,

Stevens et al. 2020, submitted to ESSD

How to cite: Lange, D., Behrendt, A., Senff, C., Späth, F., and Wulfmeyer, V.: Atmospheric Turbulence and Clouds in the Tropics: Shipborne Lidar Measurements of Dynamics and Thermodynamics During EUREC4A, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-10329,, 2021.

Convection and cloud feedbacks
Raphaela Vogel, Sandrine Bony, Anna Lea Albright, Bjorn Stevens, Geet George, Julien Delanoë, and Jessica Vial

The trade-cumulus cloud feedback in climate models is mostly driven by changes in cloud-base cloudiness, which can largely be attributed to model differences in the strength of lower-tropospheric mixing. Using observations from the recent EUREC4A field campaign, we test the hypothesis that enhanced lower-tropospheric mixing dries the lower cloud layer and reduces near-base cloudiness. The convective mass flux at cloud base is used as a proxy for the strength of convective mixing and is estimated as the residual of the subcloud layer mass budget, which is derived from dropsondes intensively launched along a circle of ~200 km diameter. The cloud-base cloud fraction is measured with horizontally-pointing lidar and radar from an aircraft flying near cloud base within the circle area. Additional airborne, ground- and ship-based radar, lidar and in-situ measurements are used to estimate the total cloud cover, the surface fluxes and to validate the consistency of the approach.

Preliminary mass flux estimates have reasonable mean values of about 15 mm/s. 3- circle (i.e. 3h) averaged estimates range between 0-40 mm/s and reveal substantial day-to-day and daily variability. The day-to-day variability in the mass flux is mostly due to variability in the mesoscale vertical velocity, whereas the entrainment rate mostly explains variability on the daily timescale, consistent with previous large-eddy simulations. We find the mass flux to be positively correlated to both the cloud-base cloud fraction and the total cloud cover (R=0.55 and R~0.4, respectively). Other indicators of lower-tropospheric mixing due to convection and mesoscale circulations also suggest positive relationships between mixing and cloudiness. Implications of these analyses for testing the hypothesized mechanism of positive trade-cumulus cloud feedback will be discussed.

How to cite: Vogel, R., Bony, S., Albright, A. L., Stevens, B., George, G., Delanoë, J., and Vial, J.: Mass flux estimates and their relationship to cloud-base cloudiness during the EUREC4A campaign, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-4804,, 2021.

Leo Saffin, Leif Denby, and Alan Blyth

A main aim of the EUREC4A project is to better understand the interaction clouds and convection with changes in the circulation. A key part of this uncertainty in models is the response of the convection parametrization to changes in the grid-scale forcing. This uncertainty can be difficult to isolate due to the complexity of models leading to many competing errors. The comprehensive observations taken during the EUREC4A field campaign give us the opportunity to run convection parametrizations directly from observations. I will show the response of the Met Office's new convection parametrization (CoMorph) to profiles derived directly from EUREC4A observations. Initial tests with the dropsonde dataset (JOANNE), show that CoMorph can produce realistic forcing within the observational uncertainty. The aim is to include more observations into this framework to identify area in which the convection parametrization can be improved.

How to cite: Saffin, L., Denby, L., and Blyth, A.: Driving a Convection Parametrization with EUREC4A Observations, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-14886,, 2021.

Mirjana Sakradzija, Fabian Senf, Leonhard Scheck, Maike Ahlgrimm, and Daniel Klocke

Local impact of a stochastic shallow convection scheme on clouds and precipitation is tested in a case study over the tropical Atlantic on 20th December 2013 using the Icosahedral Nonhydrostatic Model (ICON) of the German Weather Service. ICON is used at a grid resolution of 2.5 km and is tested in several configurations that differ in their treatment of shallow convection. Two versions of a scale-aware stochastic shallow convection scheme are compared to the operational deterministic scheme and a case with no representation of shallow convection. The model is evaluated by comparing synthetically generated irradiance data for both visible and infrared wavelengths against actual satellite observations. The experimental approach is designed to distinguish the local effects of parameterized shallow convection (or lack thereof) within the trades versus the ITCZ. 
The stochastic cases prove to be superior in reproducing low-level cloud cover, deep convection and its organization, as well as the distribution of precipitation in the tropical Atlantic ITCZ. In these cases, convective heating in the subcloud layer is substantial, boundary layer depth is increased as a result of the heating, while evaporation is enhanced at the expense of sensible heat flux at the ocean’s surface. The stochastic case where subgrid shallow convection is deactivated below the resolved deep updrafts shows that local boundary-layer convection is crucial for a better representation of deep convection. Based on these results, our study points to a necessity to further develop parameterizations of shallow convection for the use at the convection-permitting resolutions and to assuredly include them in weather and climate modelling efforts. 

How to cite: Sakradzija, M., Senf, F., Scheck, L., Ahlgrimm, M., and Klocke, D.: Local Impact of Stochastic Shallow Convection on Clouds and Precipitation in the Tropical Atlantic, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-13321,, 2021.

Saloua Peatier, Benjamin Sanderson, and Laurent Terray

The global surface temperature response to CO2 doubling (Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity or ECS) is a key uncertain parameter determining the extent of future climate change. Sherwood et al. (2020) estimated the ECS to be within [2.6K - 4.5K], but in the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 6 (CMIP6), 1/3 of the General Circulation Models (GCMs) show ECS exceeding 4.5K (Zelinka et al., 2020). CNRM-CM6-1 is one of these models, with an ECS of 4.9K. In this paper, we sampled 30 atmospheric parameters of CNRM-CM6-1 and produced a Perturbed Physics Ensemble (PPE) of atmospheric-only simulations to explore the feedback parameters diversity and the climatological plausibility of the members. This PPE showed a comparable  range of feedback parameters to the multi-model archive, from 0.8 W.m-2/K to 1.8 W.m-2/K. Emulators of climatological performance and feedback parameters were used together with  observational datasets to search for optimal model configurations conditional on different net climate feedbacks. The climatological constraints considered here did not themselves rule out the higher end ECS values of 5K and above. An optimal subset of parameter configurations were chosen to sample the range of ECS allowing the assessment of feedback constraints in future fully coupled experiments.


References :

Sherwood, S. C., Webb, M. J., Annan, J. D., Armour, K. C., Forster, P. M., Hargreaves, J. C., ... & Zelinka, M. D. (2020). An assessment of Earth's climate sensitivity using multiple lines of evidence. Reviews of Geophysics, 58(4), e2019RG000678.

Zelinka, M. D., Myers, T. A., McCoy, D. T., Po‐Chedley, S., Caldwell, P. M., Ceppi, P., ... & Taylor, K. E. (2020). Causes of higher climate sensitivity in CMIP6 models. Geophysical Research Letters, 47(1), e2019GL085782.

How to cite: Peatier, S., Sanderson, B., and Terray, L.: Evaluating parametric sensitivity of climate feedbacks in CNRM-CM6, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-15730,, 2021.

Isabel L. McCoy, Daniel T. McCoy, Robert Wood, Paquita Zuidema, and Frida A.-M. Bender

Mesoscale cellular convective (MCC) clouds occur in large-scale patterns over the ocean, are prevalent in sub-tropical cloud regions and mid-latitudes, and have important radiative impacts on the climate system. On average, closed MCC clouds have higher albedos than open or disorganized MCC clouds for the same cloud fraction which suggests differences in micro- and macro-physical characteristics between MCC morphologies. Marine cold air outbreaks (MCAOs) influence the development of open MCC clouds and the transition from closed to open MCC clouds in the mid-latitudes. A MCAO index, M, combines atmospheric surface forcing and static stability and can be used to examine global MCC morphology dependencies. MCC cloud morphology occurrence is also expected to shift with sea surface temperature (SST) changes as the climate warms. Analysis of MCC identifications (derived from a neural network classifier applied to MODIS satellite collection 6 liquid water path retrievals) and ECMWF ERA5 reanalysis data shows that closed MCC cloud occurrence shifts to open or disorganized MCC within an M-SST space. Global climate models (GCMs) predict that M will change regionally in strength as SSTs increase. Based on our derived MCC-M-SST relationship in the current climate, closed MCC occurrence frequency is expected to increase with a weakening of M but decrease with an increase in SSTs. This results in a shift to cloud morphologies with lower albedos. Cloud controlling factor analysis is used to estimate the resulting low cloud morphology feedback which is found to be spatially varied and between ±0.15 W m-2 K-1. Because the morphology feedback is estimated to be positive in the extra-tropics and is not currently represented in GCMs, this implies a higher climate sensitivity than GCMs currently estimate.

How to cite: McCoy, I. L., McCoy, D. T., Wood, R., Zuidema, P., and Bender, F. A.-M.: The Role of Mesoscale Cellular Convective Cloud Morphologies in Low Cloud Feedbacks , EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-8516,, 2021.

Lunch break
Chairpersons: Marcus Klingebiel, Isabel L. McCoy
(Mesoscale) convective organization
Sandrine Bony, Pierre-Etienne Brilouet, Patrick Chazette, Pierre Coutris, Julien Delanoë, Marie Lothon, Nicolas Rochetin, Alfons Schwarzenboeck, and Bjorn Stevens

Trade-wind clouds can exhibit different patterns of mesoscale organization. These patterns were observed during the EUREC4A (Elucidating the role of cloud-circulation coupling in climate) field campaign that took place in Jan-Feb 2020 over the western tropical Atlantic near Barbados: while the HALO aircraft was observing clouds from above and was characterizing the large-scale environment with dropsondes, the ATR-42 research aircraft was flying in the lower troposphere, characterizing clouds and turbulence with horizontal radar-lidar measurements and in-situ probes and sensors. By analyzing these data for different cloud patterns, we investigate the extent to which the cloud organization is imprinted in cloud-base properties and subcloud-layer heterogeneities. The implications of our findings for understanding the roots of the mesoscale organization of tradewind clouds will be discussed.

How to cite: Bony, S., Brilouet, P.-E., Chazette, P., Coutris, P., Delanoë, J., Lothon, M., Rochetin, N., Schwarzenboeck, A., and Stevens, B.: On the imprint of the mesoscale organization of tradewind clouds at cloud base and below, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-14901,, 2021.

Anna Luebke, André Ehrlich, Michael Schäfer, Kevin Wolf, and Manfred Wendisch

The clouds in the Atlantic trade-wind region are known to have an important role in the global climate system, but the interactions between the microphysical, macrophysical and radiative properties of these clouds are complex. This work seeks to understand how the macrophysical properties and organization of the cloud field impact the large-scale cloud radiative forcing in order to provide the necessary information for the evaluation of the representation of these clouds in models. During the 2020 EUREC4A campaign, the German HALO aircraft was equipped for the first time with two instruments - the BACARDI instrument, a broadband radiometer that encompasses a set of pyrgeometers and pyranometers to measure the upward and downward solar and terrestrial radiation at flight level, and the VELOX Thermal IR imager. Simultaneously, one-minute resolution observations of the flight domain were obtained by the GOES-E satellite, thus providing information about the properties of the clouds on a spatial scale compatible with the large footprint of the BACARDI instrument. Using the products of these three instruments, we observe how the changing cloud field (e.g. cloud fraction, mean liquid water path (LWP), cloud top height, degree of clustering) in the EUREC4A domain impacts the radiation measured at flight level. We see that although cloud fraction plays a significant role as expected, it is not sufficient to parameterize the cloud radiative effects. Furthermore, the results indicate that the general organization of the cloud field as well as other properties describing the cloud population are necessary, but their relative importance varies between different cloud scenes.

How to cite: Luebke, A., Ehrlich, A., Schäfer, M., Wolf, K., and Wendisch, M.: The sensitivity of cloud radiative forcing with respect to the macrophysical properties and organization of the trade-wind cloud field during EUREC4A, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-2219,, 2021.

Leif Denby

The representation of shallow tradewind cumulus clouds in climate models accounts for majority of inter-model spread in climate projections, highlighting an urgent need to understand these clouds better. In particular their spatial organisation appears to cause a strong impact of their radiative properties and dynamical evolution. The precise mechanisms driving different forms of convective organisation which arise both in nature and in simulations are however currently unknown.

The EUREC4A field campaign presents an unprecented oppertunity to study the ambient conditions (e.g. windshear, horizontal convergence, subsidence) while simultaneously measuring the cloud properties. Using an unsupervised neural network able to autonomously discover discover different patterns of convective organisation this work quantifies the ambient and cloud-properties present in differently organised regimes and in transitions between these regimes.

The model is trained on GOES-R imagery of the tropical Atlantic. Spatial maps of convective organisation and temporal evolution of these will be presented together with large-scale influences on their development, helping unpick the dynamics of convective clouds in this region.

How to cite: Denby, L.: Unsupervised Classification of Convective Organisation in EUREC4A with Deep Learning, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-15962,, 2021.

Hauke Schulz, Ryan Eastman, and Bjorn Stevens

Shallow convection in the downwind trades occurs in form of different cloud patterns with characteristic cloud arrangements at the meso-scale. The four most dominant patterns were previously named Sugar, Gravel, Flowers and Fish and have been identified to be associated with different net cloud radiative effects.

By using long-term observations, we reveal that these differences can be mainly attributed to the stratiform cloud component that varies in extent across the patterns as opposed to the cloudiness at the lifting condensation level that is fairly constant independent of the patterns.

The observations reveal further, that each pattern is associated with a different environmental condition whose characteristics originate not soley from within the trades. Sugar air-masses are characterized by weak winds and of tropical origin, while Fish are driven by convergence lines originating from synoptical disturbances. Gravel and Flowers are most native to the trades, but distinguish themselves with slightly stronger winds and stronger subsidence in the first case and greater stability in the latter.

How well this covariability of cloudiness and environmental conditions is represented in simulations is important to project the occurrence of the patterns in a warmer climate and evaluated by realistic large-eddy simulations of the recent EUREC4A field campaign.

How to cite: Schulz, H., Eastman, R., and Stevens, B.: Covariability of trade-wind cloudiness and environmental conditions in large-eddy simulations and observations, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-14679,, 2021.

Jessica Vial, Raphaela Vogel, and Hauke Schulz

The role of spatial organization of clouds at mesoscale in the daily cycle of shallow cumulus clouds and precipitation is here explored, for the first time, using three years of high-frequency satellite- and ground-based observations. We focus on the four prominent patterns of cloud organization – Sugar, Gravel, Flowers and Fish – which were found recently to characterize well the variability of the North Atlantic winter trades. Our analysis is based on a simple framework to disentangle the parts of the daily cycle of trade cloudiness that are due to changes in (i) the occurrence frequency of patterns and (ii) cloud cover for a given pattern. Our investigation reveals that the contribution of mesoscale organization to the daily cycle in cloudiness is largely mediated by the frequency of pattern occurrence. All forms of mesoscale organization exhibit a pronounced daily cycle in their frequency of occurrence, with distinct 24-hour phasing. The patterns Fish and Sugar can be viewed as daytime patterns, with a frequency peak around noon for Fish and towards sunset for Sugar. The patterns Gravel and Flowers appear rather as nighttime patterns, with a peak occurrence around midnight for Gravel and before sunrise for Flowers. The cloud cover for a given pattern, however, always maximizes at nighttime (between 00LT and 03LT), regardless of the specific pattern. The daily variability in the occurrence of Sugar, Gravel and Flowers together seem to reflect the evolution of the daytime shallow cloud population (peaking around sunset) and of the nighttime population of deeper cumuli (peaking near dawn), which were identified in previous work. Finally, some insight on the role of large-scale environmental conditions shows that the near-surface wind speed can explain a large part of the diurnal variability in pattern frequency and cloudiness.

How to cite: Vial, J., Vogel, R., and Schulz, H.: The role of mesoscale cloud organization in the daily cycle of trade-wind cumuli, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-9435,, 2021.

Shuhei Matsugishi and Masaki Satoh

We conducted radiative convective equilibrium (RCE) experiments with varying domain size and sea surface temperature (SST) using the global cloud-system-resolving model NICAM (Satoh et al. 2014) to investigate the dependence of the maximum horizontal scale of the convective cluster on SST.

Convective self-aggregation in RCE simulations are widely studied, where convections spontaneously organize into a humid convective cluster even in the absence of inhomogeneities in boundary conditions and forcing. Previous studies show that convective self-organization does not occur when the domain size is too small, and that convective region become single-connected regions within a certain domain size, whereas when the domain size is large enough, multiple convective clusters are generated. In a previous study, although the maximum horizontal scale of the convective cluster was estimated to be about 4000 km, but the domain size of the simulation was smaller than the Earth surface, so it is not certain whether the preferable size of the convective aggregation exists over the realistic domain of the Earth. Moreover, it is now well understood how the horizontal size of the aggregation depends on SST; this aspect is relevant to understanding of the climate sensitivity.

The experiments were conducted with the NICAM simulations with switching off convective parameterization over a non-rotating spherical domain over the area of the region by varying the radius (the Earth radius R, R/2, R/4, R/8, and R/16). The horizontal uniform constant SST was changed as 295, 300, and 305K. The results show that there was a single convective cluster at a radius of R/4 or less, while there were multiple convective clusters at a radius of R/2 or more. The threshold for the transition between multiple convective clusters and a single convective cluster is found to be between R/4 and R/2. Physical variables such as vertical profiles of temperature and humidity gradually changes as the radius becomes larger, and converged at the radius R/2. For the SST dependency, the result robustly indicates that the maximum horizontal scale of the convection cluster is not monotonic with SST and it was largest for SST 300K.

As the domain size increases, the domain average moistens, and the boundary layer wind speed increases. Because the diabatic radiative cooling is constrained by the temperature and humidity structure, the surface evaporation and thus the surface wind speed must also be constrained with an upper limit; this is why the maximum horizontal scale exists and there are multiple convective clusters for the domain size larger than R/2. We also found that the moist static energy transport from the convective region decreases as the domain becomes larger, as pointed out by Patrizio and Randall (2019). The horizontal scale dependence of the convective cluster is related to two factors: the effect of the horizontal pressure difference in the boundary layer and the circulation structure of free troposphere. The energy budget analysis also explains the SST dependence of the maximum horizontal scale of the convective clusters.

How to cite: Matsugishi, S. and Satoh, M.: Horizontal scale of large-scale convective self-aggregation and their sensitivity to SST, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-13685,, 2021.

Benjamin Fildier, Caroline Muller, Ludovic Touze-Peiffer, and Anna Lea Albright

This study investigates the role of radiative processes in shaping the spatial distribution of shallow clouds, using in-situ measurements retrieved during the EUREC4A field campaign. Horizontal gradients in atmospheric radiative cooling above the boundary layer had been advanced as important drivers of shallow circulation and low-level winds, through their effect on surface pressure gradients. Modeling studies first recognized their importance in idealized simulations of deep convection in radiative-convective equilibrium, then found a weaker role for idealized cases of very shallow convection; but recent work using remote-sensing data argued for their importance in strengthening the circulation close to the margin between dry and moist regions, on synoptic scales, arguing for a possible significance for these radiative effects on observed cloud structures.

Here we investigate cases of intermediate scale, observed during the EUREC4A field campaign, where shallow convection extends vertically up to 4 km, and whose spatial organization can be described on mesoscales as “fish” or “flower” patterns. We perform careful radiative transfer calculations, using state-of-the-art spectroscopic data and over two thousand of dropsondes and radiosondes launched, to capture the fine details of radiative cooling profiles usually missed by satellite measurements. The large number of sondes allows us to sample radiative cooling information for the organization pattern of interest and analyze it in conjunction with the direct wind and humidity measurements. We also use geostationary estimates of precipitable water in clear-sky in order to cross-check the sonde data, and connect them to the organization pattern and to the position of the moist margin.

Our results target the following relationships previously identified in idealized simulations: (a) between horizontal gradients in moisture and in top-of-the-boundary-layer radiative cooling, (b) between these radiative cooling gradients and surface wind anomalies across the moist margin, and (c) between the strength of surface winds as a function of the distance from the moist margin. These results will allow us to test the importance of radiative transfer processes in a real case of shallow convective organization.

How to cite: Fildier, B., Muller, C., Touze-Peiffer, L., and Albright, A. L.: In-situ estimates of the role of radiative cooling for shallow convective organization, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-4953,, 2021.

EUREC4A humidity and cloud retrievals
Olivier Bock, Pierre Bosser, Cyrille Flamant, Erik Doerflinger, Friedhelm Jansen, Romain Fages, Sandrine Bony, and Sabrina Schnitt

IWV data were retrieved from a network of nearly fifty Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) stations distributed over the Caribbean arc for the period 1 January-29 February 2020 encompassing the EUREC4A field campaign. Two of the stations had been installed at the Barbados Cloud Observatory (BCO) during fall 2019 in the framework of the project and are still running. All other stations are permanent stations operated routinely from various geodetic and geophysical organisations in the region. High spatial and temporal Integrated Water Vapour (IWV) observations will be used to investigate the atmospheric environment during the life cycle of convection and its feedback on the large-scale circulation and energy budget.

This paper describes the ground-based GNSS data processing details and assesses the quality of the GNSS IWV retrievals as well as the IWV estimates from radiosoundings, microwave radiometer measurements and ERA5 reanalysis.

The GNSS results from five different processing streams run by IGN and ENSTA-B/IPGP are first intercompared. Four of the streams were run operationally, among one was in near-real time, and one was run after the campaign in a reprocessing mode. The uncertainties associated with each of the data sets, including the zenith tropospheric delay to IWV conversion methods and auxiliary data, are quantified and discussed. The IWV estimates from the reprocessed data set are compared to the Vaisala RS41 radiosonde measurements operated from the BCO and to the measurements from the operational radiosonde station at Grantley Adams international airport (GAIA). A significant dry bias is found in the GAIA humidity observations with respect to the BCO sondes (-2.9 kg/m2) and the GNSS results (-1.2 kg/m2). A systematic bias between the BCO sondes and GNSS is also observed (1.7 kg/m2) where the Vaisala RS41 measurements are moister than the GNSS retrievals. The HATPRO IWV estimates agree with the BCO soundings after an instrumental update on 27 January, while they exhibit a dry bias compared to GNSS and BCO sondes before that date. ERA5 IWV estimates are overall close to the GAIA observations, probably due to the assimilation of these observations in the reanalysis. However, during several events where strong peaks in IWV occurred, ERA5 is shown to significantly underestimate the IWV peaks. Two successive peaks are observed on 22 January and 23/24 January which were associated with heavy rain and deep moist layers extending from the surface up to altitudes of 3.5 and 5 km, respectively. ERA5 significantly underestimates the moisture content in the upper part of these layers. The origins of the various moisture biases are currently being investigated.

How to cite: Bock, O., Bosser, P., Flamant, C., Doerflinger, E., Jansen, F., Fages, R., Bony, S., and Schnitt, S.: IWV observations from a network of ground-based GNSS receivers during EUREC4A, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-14481,, 2021.

Pierre Bosser, Olivier Bock, Cyril Flamant, Sandrine Bony, and Sabrian Speich

In the framework of the EUREC4A campaign, integrated water vapour (IWV) contents were retrieved over the open Tropical Atlantic Ocean using Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) data acquired from three research vessels : R/V Atalante, R/V Maria S. Merian, and R/V Meteor. This study describes the GNSS processing method and compares the GNSS IWV retrievals with IWV estimates from the ECMWF fifth ReAnalysis (ERA5), from the MODIS infra-red products, and from terrestrial GNSS stations located along the tracks of the ships. The ship-borne GNSS IWVs retrievals from R/V Atalante and R/V Meteor compare well with ERA5, with small biases (-1.62 kg/m2 for R/V Atalante and +0.65 kg/m2 for R/V Meteor) and a RMS difference about ~2.3 kg/m2. The results for the R/V Maria S. Merian are found  to be of poorer quality, with RMS difference of about 6 kg/m2 which are very likely due to the location of the GNSS antenna on this R/V prone to multipath effects. The comparisons with ground-based GNSS data confirm these results. The comparisons of all three R/V IWV retrievals with MODIS infra-red product show large RMS differences of 5-7 kg/m2, reflecting the enhanced uncertainties of this satellite product in the tropics. These ship-borne IWV retrievals are intended to be used for the description and understanding of meteorological phenomena that occurred during the campaign, east of Barbados, Guyana and northern Brazil.

How to cite: Bosser, P., Bock, O., Flamant, C., Bony, S., and Speich, S.: Integrated water vapour content retrievals from ship-borne GNSS receivers during EUREC4A, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-10322,, 2021.

Michael Schäfer, Kevin Wolf, André Ehrlich, Christoph Hallbauer, Evelyn Jäkel, Timo Röschenthaler, Bjorn Stevens, and Manfred Wendisch

The new airborne thermal infrared imager VELOX (Video airbornE Longwave Observations within siX channels) is introduced. It covers six spectral bands in the thermal infrared wavelength range from 7.7 μm to 12 μm and is operated on board of the German High Altitude and Long Range Research Aircraft (HALO) of the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Luft und Raumfahrtzentrum, DLR). The imager measures two-dimensional (2D) fields of the upward terrestrial radiance within a field of view of 35.5° by 28.7° with 640 by 512 spatial pixels. These 2D radiance fields can be converted into 2D fields of brightness temperature. With a horizontal resolution of better than 10 m VELOX extends the HALO remote sensing instrument suite to observe clouds and surface properties. The calibration and correction procedures for VELOX are presented. First measurements, collected during the ElUcidating the RolE of Cloud-Circulation Coupling in ClimAte (EUREC4A) campaign are shown, including analysis of the cloud top brightness temperature, cloud mask/fraction calculations, cloud top altitude estimates, and Sea Surface Temperature (SST) analysis. The investigations reveal that the cloud top temperature can be resolved with a resolution of about 0.1 K, which translates into a vertical resolution of about 10 m with respect to cloud top altitude.

How to cite: Schäfer, M., Wolf, K., Ehrlich, A., Hallbauer, C., Jäkel, E., Röschenthaler, T., Stevens, B., and Wendisch, M.: VELOX - A new thermal infrared imager for airborne remote sensing of cloud and surface properties, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-1214,, 2021.

Theresa Mieslinger, Tobias Kölling, Manfred Brath, Bjorn Stevens, and Stefan A. Buehler

We investigate the abundance and radiative effect of small and optically thin clouds in trade wind cumulus cloud fields from high-resolution satellite imagery. Using radiative transfer calculations to simulate clear-sky observations, we can identify optically thin cloud areas in ASTER images, a signal that is undetected by the satellite products that are commonly used for cloud radiative effect and cloud feedback analysis. Results from the analysis within the EUREC4A campaign suggest that the area covered by optically thin clouds is approximately as big as the area covered by clouds that are detected by common cloud masking algorithms. Compared to clear-sky ocean observations, the enhanced radiance from optically thin clouds leads to a high-bias in clear-sky estimates and hence a low-bias in the estimated radiative effect of trade wind cumuli. Next to the radiative effect, we discuss further implications that a broad cloud optical depth distribution might have on modelling results of a perturbed climate.

How to cite: Mieslinger, T., Kölling, T., Brath, M., Stevens, B., and Buehler, S. A.: Optically thin clouds in the winter trades, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-12663,, 2021.

Veronika Pörtge, Tobias Kölling, Tobias Zinner, Linda Forster, Claudia Emde, and Bernhard Mayer

The evolution of clouds and their impact on weather and climate is closely related to the cloud droplet size distribution, which is often represented by two parameters: the cloud droplet effective radius (reff) and the effective variance (veff). The droplet radius (reff) determines the radiative effect of clouds on climate. The effective variance is a measure of the width of the size distribution which is, for instance, important to understand the formation of precipitation or entrainment and mixing processes. We present an airborne remote-sensing technique to determine reff and veff from high-resolution polarimetric imaging observations of the LMU cloud camera system specMACS.

Recently the spectral camera system has been upgraded by a wide-field polarization resolving RGB camera which was operated for the first time on the HALO aircraft during the EUREC4A campaign. The new polarimeter is ideally suited for observing the cloudbow - an optical phenomenon which forms by scattering of sunlight by liquid water cloud droplets at cloud top. The cloudbow is dominated by single scattering which has two implications: Its visibility is significantly enhanced in polarized measurements and its structure is sensitive to the cloud droplet size distribution at cloud top. This allows the retrieval of reff and veff by fitting the observed polarized cloudbow reflectances against a look-up table of pre-computed scattering phase functions.

The characteristics of the polarimeter are optimized for the measurement of the cloudbow. The wide field-of-view is key for observing the cloudbow (scattering angle 135° -165°) for a wide range of solar positions. Another advantage is the high spatial and temporal resolution which allows the study of small-scale variability of cloud microphysics at cloud top with a horizontal resolution of up to 20 m. Combining the polarimetric cloudbow technique with an existing stereographic retrieval of cloud geometry allows to derive vertical profiles of the droplet size distribution at cloud top. Observations of different EUREC4A cloud fields are used to demonstrate the retrieval technique and to present first spatial distributions and vertical profiles of cloud droplet size distributions.

How to cite: Pörtge, V., Kölling, T., Zinner, T., Forster, L., Emde, C., and Mayer, B.: Spatial distributions of cloud droplet size distributions from cloudbow observations measured with specMACS, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-8862,, 2021.

Florian Ewald, Silke Groß, Martin Wirth, Martin Hagen, and Manuel Gutleben

The interaction of aerosol, clouds, and water vapor is still a major source of uncertainty in projections of Earth’s future climate. Especially in the trades, the response of shallow marine trade wind convection to external forcings is poorly understood. These low-level clouds have an important cooling effect on surface temperatures, while their amount and height are directly influenced by the radiative cooling by aerosols and water vapor aloft. Furthermore, there is evidence that aerosols can modify the microphysical properties (e.g., by glaciation) and the precipitation formation inside these clouds while water vapor above the trade inversion influences the atmospheric stability in which they form. Due to the small horizontal scale of these clouds, the vertical separation of atmospheric layers, and the temporal evolution of precipitation, the observation of this interplay by geostationary satellites is scarce.

To alleviate this observational data gap over the tropical North-Atlantic region, airborne lidar and cloud radar measurements were performed in the vicinity of Barbados and complemented with dedicated weather radar measurements during the EUREC4A campaign in February 2020. Aerosol properties and the vertical water vapor profile were characterized with simultaneous high spectral resolution and differential absorption measurements using the WALES lidar onboard the German research aircraft HALO. On the same platform, the vertical cloud extent and the presence of precipitation were sampled with the high-power Ka-band cloud radar HAMP MIRA. To capture the temporal evolution of precipitation patterns, these measurements were complemented with measurements of the C-band polarimetric weather radar POLDIRAD which was installed on the windward side of Barbados. During EUREC4A, measurements flights were conducted in high and low aerosol loads to sample its influence on the marine trade wind convection.

This presentation will briefly introduce the instrumentation, data processing, and availability and give an overview of gained insights and ongoing studies. By means of case studies, we will give first impressions of the complementary nature of the collocated, highly resolved airborne measurements and the POLDIRAD measurements which provide the horizontal context and temporal evolution of the precipitation formation. By combining the cross-sectional snapshots with the temporal evolution of the precipitation pattern we will provide a detailed insight into the interplay between the aerosol and water vapor layer and the precipitation formation in the shallow marine trade wind convection.

How to cite: Ewald, F., Groß, S., Wirth, M., Hagen, M., and Gutleben, M.: Using airborne lidar and weather radar measurements to characterize the interplay between aerosol and shallow marine trade wind clouds, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-12659,, 2021.

Bjorn Stevens, Ilya Serikov, Anna Lea Albright, Sandrine Bony, Geet George, Lutz Hirsch, Friedhelm Jansen, Tobias Kölling, Hauke Schulz, Raphaela Vogel, and Ludwig Worbes

Cloud free skies are rare in the trades.  We analyze conditions in which cloud-free conditions prevail.  For this purpose Raman water vapor measurements from the Barbados Cloud Observatory, complemented by ship-based measurements during EUREC4A are used to explore water vapor variability in the marine boundary layer.   We explore the consistency of the inferred cloud base height with estimates of temperature and water vapor from the lidar signal, and examine the co-variability of these quantities.  After having established the properties of these measurements, we seek to use them as well as others, to explain in what ways periods of cloud-free conditions are maintained, investigating the hypothesis that only when the wind stills is it simply sunny.

How to cite: Stevens, B., Serikov, I., Albright, A. L., Bony, S., George, G., Hirsch, L., Jansen, F., Kölling, T., Schulz, H., Vogel, R., and Worbes, L.: Why sometimes its simply sunny (in the trades), EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-15408,, 2021.

Precipitation and cold pools
Jule Radtke, Ann Kristin Naumann, Felix Ament, and Martin Hagen

Fields of shallow convection exhibit a rich spatial variability forming patterns of various shape, size and arrangement, commonly denoted as organization and often associated with precipitation. To understand either might require understanding both. However, the distribution and patterns of precipitation in shallow convection have received little attention so far.  

We investigate whether spatial patterning matters for the amount or intensity of precipitation in a scene. Are details of the spatial distribution important? Therefore, we analyse if and how the number, size and spatial arrangement of rain objects vary with scene precipitation rates. To do so, we exploit observational data from the C-band radar PoldiRad installed during the EUREC4A measurement campaign scanning a sector with approximately 200 km range east of Barbados in the western tropical Atlantic and compare to storm resolving simulations with ICON.

Our analyses suggest that it is mostly the precipitating area, which is determined by the number and size of rain objects, that regulates scene rainfall amounts. Especially the tail of large objects increases widening the spread in rain object sizes with increasing scene rainfall. While ICON captures this behaviour qualitatively, it overall simulates too small objects that rain too intense. We conclude that the extent of precipitation objects is more relevant for scene precipitation rates than a close spacing of objects.

How to cite: Radtke, J., Naumann, A. K., Ament, F., and Hagen, M.: Spatial patterns of precipitation in shallow convection during EUREC4A, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-2722,, 2021.

Ludovic Touzé-Peiffer, Raphaela Vogel, and Nicolas Rochetin

We develop a novel method to detect cold pools from atmospheric soundings over tropical oceans and apply it to sounding data from EUREC4A. The proposed method exploits the fact that the air in a cold pool is denser than the air above it. It leads us to define cold pool soundings as those for which the mixed-layer height is smaller than 400 m. We first test this criterion by verifying its consistency with surface temperature and precipitation in a realistic high-resolution simulation over the western tropical Atlantic. Applying to EUREC4A data, we then identify 7 % of EUREC4A dropsondes and radiosondes as cold pool soundings. In two selected case studies, we find that cold pool soundings coincide with mesoscale cloud arcs and temperature drops in the surface time series. Statistics for the entire campaign further characterize the signature of cold pools in temperature, humidity and wind profiles. In the presence of wind shear, we show in particular that the spreading of cold pools is favored downshear, suggesting downward momentum transport by unsaturated downdrafts. These results support the robustness of our simple method in different environmental conditions and illustrate the new insights it offers for the characterization of cold pools and their environment. 

How to cite: Touzé-Peiffer, L., Vogel, R., and Rochetin, N.: Detecting cold pools from soundings during EUREC4A, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-1038,, 2021.

Bettina Meyer, Romain Fiévet, and Jan O. Haerter

Convective cold pools (CPs) have been recognised as an important ingredient in the organization of convective cloud fields and the formation of intense rain events (Feng et al. 2015, Torria and Kuang 2019). To understand the life cycle of CPs and their mutual interaction, idealised large-eddy simulations (LES) of isolated or colliding CPs have become an important tool to develop simple theories about the propagation speed, the dissipation rate and the moisture distribution within the CP and the surrounding environment (Rooney 2015; Langhans et al. 2015; Romps and Jeevanjee 2016; Grant et al. 2016, 2018). On the contrary, the formation of CPs and specifically their relation to their parent rain events has so far not gained much attention in idealised studies. This is surprising, as the relation between the generating rain event and the CP strength is relevant for the theoretical understanding of the ‘rain – CP – rain’ cycle and the parameterization of CPs, which aims at adjusting for the enhanced convective triggering under the presence of CPs, where the triggering scales with the CP strength. 

In this study we thus examine the relation between rain intensity, duration and CP strength in an idealised setting. To this end, we include the temporal extent of the rain event that forms the CP through evaporative cooling by varying the duration, intensity and area of the air volume that is cooled and moistened to simulate the generation of a CP. This finite duration of the CP forcing has been neglected by most studies that initialise the CP by an instantaneous forcing alone (e.g., Rooney 2015, Grant 2016). Our simulations show that a continuous cooling, imitating persistent rainfall, affects the generated CP only over a period of approximately ten minutes. Shorter cooling leads to smaller and weaker CPs, while cooling occurring after 10mins does not substantially affect the CP properties, such as its radius and propagation speed, the internal circulation in the CP head. Consequently, the CP’s effect on the environment as measured in terms of the updraft strength ahead of the CP, increases for cooling times up to 10mins and converges thereafter. To imitate a change in precipitation intensity, we vary the cooling amplitude. As expected, stronger cooling leads to stronger CPs. However, this effect is surprisingly small and does not substantially alter the CPs’ internal structure. 

To test the extent to which these results can be translated to ‘real’ CPs generated by evaporative cooling of rainfall, we study the relation between rain intensity and CP strength in comprehensive LES of deep convection and observational data. Hereby, we hopefully can improve our understanding , how best to characterise rain events, e.g. by their instantaneous or time-integrated precipitation statistics, to determine the CP strength.

How to cite: Meyer, B., Fiévet, R., and Haerter, J. O.: Predicting cold pool strength as a function of rain duration and intensity, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-13390,, 2021.