Acta Meteorologica Sinica

, Volume 27, Issue 1, pp 26–39 | Cite as

Observational characteristics of cloud vertical profiles over the continent of East Asia from the CloudSat data

  • Jinfang Yin (尹金方)
  • Donghai Wang (王东海)
  • Guoqing Zhai (翟国庆)
  • Zhien Wang (王志恩)


The CloudSat satellite data from June 2006 to April 2011 are used to investigate the characteristics of cloud vertical profiles over East Asia (20°–50°N, 80°–120°E), with particular emphasis on the profiles of precipitative clouds in comparison with those of nonprecipitative clouds, as well as the seasonal variations of these profiles. There are some obvious differences between the precipitative and nonprecipitative cloud profiles. Generally, precipitative clouds mainly locate below 8 km with radar reflectivity in the range of −20 to 15 dBZ and maximum values appearing within 2–4-km height, and the clouds usually reach the ground; while nonprecipitative clouds locate in the layers of 4–12 km with radar reflectivity between −28 and 0 dBZ and maximum values within 8–10-km height. There are also some differences among the liquid precipitative, solid precipitative, and possible drizzle precipitative cloud profiles. In precipitative clouds, radar reflectivity increases rapidly from 11 to 7 km in vertical, implying that condensation and collision-coalescence processes play a crucial role in the formation of large-size drops. The frequency distribution of temperature at −15°C is consistent with the highest frequency of radar reflectivity in solid precipitative clouds, which suggests that the temperatures near −15°C are conductive to deposition and accretion processes. The vertical profiles of liquid precipitative clouds show almost the same distributions in spring, summer, and autumn but with differences in winter at mainly lower levels. In contrast, the vertical profiles of solid precipitative clouds change from spring to winter with an alternate double and single high-frequency core, which is consistent with variations of the frequency distribution of temperature at −15°C. The vertical profiles of nonprecipitative clouds show a little change with season. The observations also show that the precipitation events over East Asia are mostly related to deep convective clouds and nimbostratus clouds. These results are expected to be useful for evaluation of weather and climate models and for improvement of microphysical parameterizations in numerical models.

Key words

CloudSat cloud vertical profile precipitative and nonprecipitative clouds cloud radar reflectivity frequency distribution 


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Copyright information

© The Chinese Meteorological Society and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jinfang Yin (尹金方)
    • 1
    • 2
  • Donghai Wang (王东海)
    • 2
  • Guoqing Zhai (翟国庆)
    • 1
  • Zhien Wang (王志恩)
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Earth ScienceZhejiang UniversityHangzhouChina
  2. 2.State Key Laboratory of Severe WeatherChinese Academy of Meteorological SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.Department of Atmospheric ScienceUniversity of WyomingLaramieUSA

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