Historical observations of cloudiness (1882–2012) over a large urban area of the eastern Mediterranean (Athens)

Abstract

Clouds play a major role in the radiative balance of our planet and largely control dynamic and thermal atmospheric processes that affect the climatic system. In addition to cloud cover (CC), different types of clouds are of special interest, as they contribute in different ways to the energy budget between the earth and the atmosphere. The study analyzes historical sub-daily reports from cloudiness observations conducted at the National Observatory of Athens, dating since the late nineteenth century. Long-term trends and diurnal, intra-annual, and inter-annual variability of both CC and frequency of prevailing cloud types were estimated. The analysis revealed statistically significant positive trends (p < 0.001) in CC over the entire study period, more pronounced in spring and summer. Important changes in the prevalence frequency (PF) of certain cloud types over the last 60 years were also detected. Low, middle, and high clouds exhibited significant long-term trends of opposite sign. A marked increase in the PF of low and high clouds was observed in the recent decades, accompanied with simultaneous decrease in the middle cloud occurrence. Convective clouds prevailed increasingly more frequently over time during winter, while low stratiform clouds declined, in agreement with other observations worldwide. Significant correlation was also found between the PF of stratiform clouds and precipitation frequency.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7
Fig. 8

References

  1. Alpert PT, Ben-gai T, Baharad A, Benjamini Y, Yekutieli D, Colacino M, Diodato L, Ramis C, Homar V, Romero R, Michaelidis S (2002) The paradoxical increase of Mediterranean extreme daily rainfall in spite of decrease in total values. Geophys Res Lett 29(11):X1–X4. https://doi.org/10.1029/2001GLO13554

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Angevine WM, White AB, Senff CJ, Trainer M, Banta RM, Ayoub MA (2003) Urban–rural contrasts in mixing height and cloudiness over Nashville in 1999. J Geophys Res 108(D3):4092. https://doi.org/10.1029/2001JD001061

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Boucher O (1999) Air traffic may increase cirrus cloudiness. Nature 397:30–31. https://doi.org/10.1038/16169

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Changnon SA (1981) Midwestern cloud, sunshine and temperature trends since 1901 – possible evidence of jet contrail effects. J Appl Meteorol 20:496–508. https://doi.org/10.1175/1520-0450(1981)020<0496:MCSATT>2.0.CO;2

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Changnon SA, Huff FA (1957) Cloud distribution and correlation with precipitation in Illinois. State Water Survey Division (available at: http://www.isws.illinois.edu/pubdoc/RI/ISWSRI-33.pdf, last access 23 February 2018)

  6. Croke MS, Cess RD, Hameed S (1999) Regional cloud cover change associated with global climate change: case studies for three regions of the United States. J Clim 12:2128–2134. https://doi.org/10.1175/1520-0442(1999)012<2128:RCCCAW>2.0.CO;2

  7. Curto JJ, Aso E, Pallé E, Solé JG (2009) Sunshine and synoptic cloud observations at Ebro Observatory, 1910–2006. Int J Climatol 29:2183–2190. https://doi.org/10.1002/joc.1841

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Dai A, Karl TR, Sun B, Trenberth KE (2006) Recent trends in cloudiness over the United States – a tale of monitoring inadequacies. Bull Am Meteorol Soc 2006:59–606. https://doi.org/10.1175/BAMS-87-5-597

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Eleftheratos K, Zerefos CS, Zanis P, Balis DS, Tselioudis G, Gierens K, Sausen R (2007) A study on natural and manmade global interannual fluctuations of cirrus cloud cover for the period 1984–2004. Atmos Chem Phys 7:2631–2642. https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-7-2631-2007

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Folland CK, Knight J, Linderholm HW, Fereday D, Ineson S, Hurrell JW (2009) The summer North Atlantic Oscillation: past, present, and future. J Clim 22:1082–1103. https://doi.org/10.1175/2008JCLI2459.1

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Founda D (2011) Evolution of the air temperature in Athens and evidence of climatic change – a review. Adv Build Energy Res (ABER) 5:7–41. https://doi.org/10.1080/17512549.2011.582338

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Founda D, Giannakopoulos C, Pierros F, Kalimeris A, Petrakis M (2013) Observed and projected precipitation variability in Athens over a 2.5 century period. Atmos Sci Lett 14:72–78. https://doi.org/10.1002/asl2.419

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Founda D, Kalimeris A, Pierros F (2014) Multi annual variability and climatic signal analysis of sunshine duration at a large urban area of Mediterranean (Athens). Urban Climate 10:815–830. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.uclim.2014.09.008

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Founda D, Pierros F, Petrakis M, Zerefos C (2015) Interdecadal variations and trends of the Urban Heat Island in Athens (Greece) and its response to heat waves. Atmos Res 161-162:1–13. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.atmosres.2015.03.016

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Founda D, Kazadzis S, Mihalopoulos N, Gerasopoulos E, Lianou M, Raptis PI (2016) Long term visibility variation in Athens (1931–2013): a proxy for local and regional atmospheric aerosol loads. Atmos Chem Phys 16:11219–11236. https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-16-11219-2016

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Founda D, Pierros F, Sarantopoulos A (2017) Evidence of dimming/brightening over Greece from long-term observations of sunshine duration and cloud cover. In: Karacostas T, Bais A, Nastos P (eds) Perspectives on atmospheric sciences. Springer Atmospheric Sciences, Springer, Cham, ISBN 978-3-319-35094-3. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-35095-0_108

    Google Scholar 

  17. Hartmann DL, Ockert-Bell ME, Michelsen ML (1992) The effect of cloud type on Earth’s energy balance: global analysis. J Clim 5:1281–1304. https://doi.org/10.1175/1520-0442(1992)005<1281:TEOCTO>2.0.CO;2

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Henderson-Sellers A (1989) North American total cloud amount variations this century. Glob Planet Chang 1:175–194. https://doi.org/10.1016/0031-0182(89)90176-4

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Houghton JT, Ding Y, Griggs DJ, Noguer M, Van der Linden PJ, Dai X, Maskell K, Johnson CA (eds) (2001) Climate change 2001: the scientific basis. University Press, Cambridge

    Google Scholar 

  20. Hurrell JW, Kushnir Y, Visbeck M (2001) The North Atlantic Oscillation. Science 291:603–605. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1058761

  21. Jin Y, Rossow WB, Wylie DP (1996) Comparison of the climatologies of high-level clouds from HIRS and ISCCP. J Clim 9:2850–2879. https://doi.org/10.1175/1520-0442(1996)009<2850:COTCOH>2.0.CO;2

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Kaiser DP (2000) Decreasing cloudiness over China: an updated analysis examining additional variables. Geophys Res Lett 27:2193–2196. https://doi.org/10.1029/2000GL011358

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Kalimeris A, Founda D (2017) Interannual variability modes of the Athens total cloud cover. International Journal of Climatology. IJOC-17-0476 (under review)

  24. Kazadzis S, Founda D, Psiloglou BE, Kambezidis H, Mihalopoulos N, Sanchez-Lorenzo A, Meleti C, Raptis PI, Pierros F, Nabat P (2018) Long-term series and trends in surface solar radiation ainAthens, Greece. Atmos Chem Phys 18:2395–2411. https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-18-2395-2018

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Khlebnikova EI, Sall IA (2009) Peculiarities of climatic changes in cloud cover over the Russian Federation. Russ Meteorol Hydrol 34:411–417. https://doi.org/10.3103/S1068373909070012

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Lee DS, Fahey DW, Forster PM, Newton PJ, Wit RCN, Lim LL, Owena B, Sausen R (2009) Aviation and global climate change in the 21st century. Atmos Environ 43:3520–3537. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.atmosenv.2009.04.024

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Liou KK (1986) Influence of cirrus clouds on weather and climate processes: a global perspective. Mon Weather Rev 114:1167–1198. https://doi.org/10.1175/1520-0493(1986)114<1167:IOCCOW>2.0.CO;2

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Lolis CJ (2009) Winter cloudiness variability in the Mediterranean region and its connection to atmospheric circulation features. Theor Appl Climatol 96:357–373. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00704-008-0046-0

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Manea A, Birsan MV, Tudorache G, Cărbunaru F (2016) Changes in the type of precipitation and associated cloud types in Eastern Romania (1961–2008). Atmos Res 169:357–365. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.atmosres.2015.10.020

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Matuszko D (2002) Long term course of cloud genera in Crakow (1906–2000). Eos Transactions American Geophysical Union 83 Issue 46:528. https://doi.org/10.1029/2002EO000368

  31. Matuszko D (2003) Cloudiness changes in Crakow in the 20th century. Int J Climatol 23:975–984. https://doi.org/10.1002/joc.887

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Matuszko D, Węglarczyk S (2014) Effect of cloudiness on long-term variability in air temperature in Krakow. Int J Climatol 34:145–154. https://doi.org/10.1002/joc.3672

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Meerkötter R, Schumann U, Doelling DR, Minnis P, Nakajima T, Tsushima Y (1999) Radiative forcing by contrails. Ann Geophys 17:1080–1094. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00585-999-1080-7

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Milewska EJ (2008) Cloud type observations and trends in Canada, 1953-2003. Atmosphere-Ocean 46:297–316. https://doi.org/10.3137/ao.460302

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Minnis P, Ayers JK, Palikonda R, Phan D (2004) Contrails, cirrus trends, and climate. J Clim 17:1671–1685. https://doi.org/10.1175/1520-0442(2004)017<1671:CCTAC>2.0.CO;2

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) (2001) NASA Science News, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, January 18 (Available from http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2001/ast18jan_1.htm)

  37. Nastos PT, Kapsomenakis J (2015) Regional climate model simulations of extreme air temperature in Greece. Abnormal or common records in the future climate? Atmos Res 152:43–60. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.atmosres.2014.02.005

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Nastos PT, Matzarakis A (2008) Variability of tropical days over Greece within the second half of the twentieth century. Theor Appl Climatol 93:75–89. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00704-007-0325-1

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. Nastos PT, Zerefos CS (2007) On extreme daily precipitation totals in Athens, Greece. Adv Geosci 10:59–66. https://doi.org/10.5194/adgeo-10-59-2007

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. Nastos PT, Philandras CM, Founda D, Zerefos CS (2011) Air temperature trends related to changes in atmospheric circulation in the wider area of Greece. Int J Remote Sens 32(3):737–750. https://doi.org/10.1080/01431161.2010.517796

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. Norris JR, Allen RJ, Evan AT, Zelinka MD, O’Dell CW, Klein SA (2016) Evidence for climate change in the satellite cloud record. Nature 536:72–77. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature18273

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. Philandras CM, Nastos PT, Kapsomenakis IN, Repapis CC (2015) Climatology of upper air temperature in the Eastern Mediterranean region. Atmos Res 152:29–42. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.atmosres.2013.12.002

    Article  Google Scholar 

  43. Ramanathan V, Cess RD, Harrison EF, Minnis P, Barkstrom BR, Ahmad E, Hartmann D (1989) Cloud-radiative forcing and climate: results from the Earth Radiation Budget Experiment. Science 243:57–63. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.243.4887.57

    Article  Google Scholar 

  44. Sakellariou N, Asimakopoulos D, Varotsos C, Capsocha O (1993) Prevailing cloud types in Athens. Theor Appl Climatol 48:89–100. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00864916

    Article  Google Scholar 

  45. Sanchez-Lorenzo A, Calbó J, Brunetti M, Deser C (2009) Dimming/brightening over the Iberian Peninsula: trends in sunshine duration and cloud cover, and their relations with atmospheric circulation. J Geophys Res 114:D00D09. https://doi.org/10.1029/2008JD011394

    Article  Google Scholar 

  46. Sanchez-Lorenzo A, Calbó J, Wild M (2012) Increasing cloud cover in the 20th century: review and new findings in Spain. Clim Past 8:1199–1212. https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-8-1199-2012

    Article  Google Scholar 

  47. Sanchez-Lorenzo A, Enriquez-Alonso A, Calbó J, González J-A, Wild M, Folini D, Norris JR, Vicente-Serrano SM (2017) Fewer clouds in the Mediterranean: consistency of observations and climate simulations. Sci Rep 7:41475. https://doi.org/10.1038/srep41475

    Article  Google Scholar 

  48. Santamouris M, Papanikolaou N, Livada I, Koronakis I, Georgakis C, Argiriou A, Assimakopoulos DN (2001) On the impact of urban climate to the energy consumption of buildings. Sol Energy 70:201–216. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0038-092X(00)00095-5

    Article  Google Scholar 

  49. Schlesinger ME, Ramankutty N (1994) An oscillation in the global climate system of period 65-70 years. Nature 367:723–726. https://doi.org/10.1038/367723a0

    Article  Google Scholar 

  50. Stephens GL, Webster PJ (1981) Clouds and climate: sensitivity of simple systems. J Atmos Sci 38:235–247. https://doi.org/10.1175/1520-0469(1981)038<0235:CACSOS>2.0.CO;2

    Article  Google Scholar 

  51. Stordal F, Myhre G, Stordal EJG, Rossow WB, Lee DS, Arlander DW, Svendby T (2005) Is there a trend in cirrus cloud cover due to aircraft traffic? Atmos Chem Phys 5:2155–2162. https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-5-2155-2005

    Article  Google Scholar 

  52. Sun B, Groisman PY (2000) Cloudiness variations over the former Soviet Union. Int J Climatol 20:1097–1111. https://doi.org/10.1002/1097-0088(200008)20:10<1097::AID-JOC541>3.0.CO;2-5

    Article  Google Scholar 

  53. Sun B, Groisman PY (2004) Variations in low cloud cover over the United States during the second half of the twentieth century. J Clim 17:1883–1888. https://doi.org/10.1175/1520-0442(2004)017<1883:VILCCO>2.0.CO;2

    Article  Google Scholar 

  54. Warren SG, Eastman RM, Hahn CJ (2007) A survey of changes in cloud cover and cloud types over land from surface observations, 1971–96. J Clim 20:717–738. https://doi.org/10.1175/JCLI4031

    Article  Google Scholar 

  55. Wibig J (2008) Cloudiness variations in Łodz in the second half of the 20th century. Int J Climatol 28:479–491. https://doi.org/10.1002/joc.1544

    Article  Google Scholar 

  56. Wild M (2009) Global dimming and brightening: a review. J Geophys Res 114:D00D16. https://doi.org/10.1029/JD011470

    Article  Google Scholar 

  57. Wylie D, Jackson DL, Menzel WP, Bates JJ (2005) Trends in global cloud cover in two decades of HIRS observations. J Clim 18:3021–3031. https://doi.org/10.1175/JCLI3461.1

    Article  Google Scholar 

  58. Zerefos CS, Eleftheratos K, Balis DS, Zanis P, Tselioudis G, Meleti C (2003) Evidence of impact of aviation on cirrus cloud formation. Atmos Chem Phys 3:1633–1644. https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-3-1633-2003

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Dimitra Founda.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Founda, D., Nastos, P.T., Pierros, F. et al. Historical observations of cloudiness (1882–2012) over a large urban area of the eastern Mediterranean (Athens). Theor Appl Climatol 137, 283–295 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00704-018-2596-0

Download citation