An Overview of Atmospheric Features Over the Western North Atlantic Ocean and North American East Coast—Part 2: Circulation, Boundary Layer, and Clouds

David Painemal, Andrea F. Corral, Armin Sorooshian, Michael A. Brunke, Seethala Chellappan, Vesta Afzali Gorooh, Seung Hee Ham, Larry O'Neill, William L. Smith, George Tselioudis, Hailong Wang, Xubin Zeng, Paquita Zuidema

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

The Western North Atlantic Ocean (WNAO) is a complex land-ocean-atmosphere system that experiences a broad range of atmospheric phenomena, which in turn drive unique aerosol transport pathways, cloud morphologies, and boundary layer variability. This work, Part 2 of a 2-part paper series, provides an overview of the atmospheric circulation, boundary layer variability, three-dimensional cloud structure, and precipitation over the WNAO; the companion paper (Part 1) focused on chemical characterization of aerosols, gases, and wet deposition. Seasonal changes in atmospheric circulation and sea surface temperature explain a clear transition in cloud morphologies from small shallow cumulus clouds, convective clouds, and tropical storms in summer, to stratus/stratocumulus and multilayer cloud systems associated with winter storms. Synoptic variability in cloud fields is estimated using satellite-based weather states, and the role of postfrontal conditions (cold-air outbreaks) in the development of stratiform clouds is further analyzed. Precipitation is persistent over the ocean, with a regional peak over the Gulf Stream path, where offshore sea surface temperature gradients are large and surface fluxes reach a regional peak. Satellite data show a clear annual cycle in cloud droplet number concentration with maxima (minima) along the coast in winter (summer), suggesting a marked annual cycle in aerosol-cloud interactions. Compared with satellite cloud retrievals, four climate models qualitatively reproduce the annual cycle in cloud cover and liquid water path, but with large discrepancies across models, especially in the extratropics. The paper concludes with a summary of outstanding issues and recommendations for future work.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2020JD033423
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research Atmospheres
Volume126
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 27 2021

Keywords

  • Western North Atlantic
  • air-sea interactions
  • atmospheric boundary layer
  • climate model evaluation
  • stratiform clouds

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science
  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science

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