Climate Dynamics

, Volume 51, Issue 3, pp 813–835 | Cite as

Characterization of vertical cloud variability over Europe using spatial lidar observations and regional simulation

  • M. ChakrounEmail author
  • S. Bastin
  • M. Chiriaco
  • H. Chepfer


In this paper we characterize the seasonal and inter-annual variabilities of cloud fraction profiles in both observations and simulation since they are critical to better assess the impact of clouds on climate variability. The spaceborne lidar onboard CALIPSO, providing cloud vertical profiles since 2006, is used together with a 23-year WRF simulation at 20 km resolution. A lidar simulator helps to compare consistently model with observations. The bias in observations due to the satellite under-sampling is first estimated. Then we examine the vertical variability of both occurrence and properties of clouds. It results that observations indicate a similar occurrence of low and high clouds over continent, and more high than low clouds over the sea except in summer. The simulation shows an overestimate (underestimate) of high (low) clouds comparing to observations, especially in summer. However the seasonal variability of cloud vertical profiles is well captured by WRF. Concerning inter-annual variability, observations show that in winter, those of high clouds is twice the low clouds one, an order of magnitude that is is well simulated. In summer, the observed inter-annual variability is vertically more homogeneous while the model still simulates more variability for high clouds than for low clouds. The good behavior of the simulation in winter allows us to use the 23 years of simulation and 8 years of observations to estimate the time period required to characterize the natural variability of the cloud fraction profile in winter, i.e. the time period required to detect significant anomalies and trends.


Lidar Clouds Simulation Europe Natural variability 



This work is a contribution to the EECLAT project through Les Enveloppes Fluides et l’Environnement / Institut National des Sciences de l’Univers and Terre, Océan, Surfaces Continentales, Atmosphère/Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales supports and to the HyMeX program through INSU-MISTRALS support, and the Med-CORDEX program. Simulation was performed using Grand Equipement National de Calcul Intensif with granted access to the HPC resources of Institut du Développement et des Ressources en Informatique Scientifique (under allocation i2011010227). The authors would like to thank Climserv team for computing and storage resources. Marjolaine Chiriaco research is directly supported by Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales. The authors wish to thank Florian Rouvière, Gregory Césana, and Vincent Noël for their contribution to this work.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Chakroun
    • 1
    Email author
  • S. Bastin
    • 1
  • M. Chiriaco
    • 1
  • H. Chepfer
    • 2
  1. 1.LATMOS/IPSL, UVSQ Université Paris-Saclay, UPMC Univ. Paris 06, CNRSGuyancourtFrance
  2. 2.Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique, IPSL, Centre National de la Recherche ScientifiqueUniversité Paris 6ParisFrance

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