Climate Dynamics

, Volume 49, Issue 1–2, pp 327–341 | Cite as

CloudSat observations of multi layered clouds across the globe

  • K. Venkata SubrahmanyamEmail author
  • Karanam Kishore Kumar


Vertically resolved multi-layer cloud distributions over the globe using 4 years of CloudSat/CALIPSO observations during 2007–2010 are discussed. The quantitative information on the frequency of occurrence of one- to five-layered clouds across the globe is established, which are of immense importance from the global climate standpoint. After segregating the CloudSat observations into different seasons, the 4 years of mean global maps of frequency of occurrence of one to five-layered clouds are discussed in details. These global maps provide much needed quantification of vertically resolved multi-layer clouds by revealing when and where the frequency of occurrence of multi-layer clouds are maximum including the number of layers. On an average, it is observed that over the globe one-, two-, three-, four- and five-layer clouds occur 53, 20, 3.5, 0.4 and 0.04 % of the time respectively. High fraction of single layer clouds is observed over the descending limbs of Hadley cell where relatively large lower tropospheric stability is found. The regions where multi-layer clouds are more frequent are identified and discussed along with large scale circulation. Apart from quantifying the frequency of occurrence of multi-layer clouds, the latitudinal distribution of zonal mean occurrence of cloud base and top altitudes of each cloud layer is constructed for boreal winter and summer. These analyses provide the cloud base and top altitudes of one to five-layered clouds, which are important to understand the vertical structure of the multi-layered clouds. The significance of the present study lies in establishing the global distribution of vertically resolved multi-layer clouds and the role of large-scale dynamics in controlling their distribution for the first time.


Multi-layered clouds Large-scale circulation CloudSat 



The authors are greatly thankful to CloudSat and CALIPSO team for 2B-GEPROF LIDAR product, which was obtained from the website


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Space Physics LaboratoryVikram Sarabhai Space CentreThiruvananthapuramIndia

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