Conceptual model of diurnal cycle of stratiform low-level clouds over southern West Africa

Fabienne Lohou, Norbert Kalthoff, Bianca Adler, Karmen Babić, Cheikh Dione, Marie Lothon, Xabier Pedruzo-Bagazgoitia, Maurin Zouzoua
2019 Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Discussions  
<p><strong>Abstract.</strong> DACCIWA (Dynamics Aerosol Chemistry Cloud Interactions in West Africa) project and the associated ground-based field experiment, which took place during the summer 2016, provided a comprehensive dataset on the low-level stratiform clouds (LLC) which develop almost every night over southern West Africa. The LLC, inaccurately represented in the climate and weather forecasts, form in the monsoon flow during the night and break up the day after, affecting considerably
more » ... he radiation budget. The DACCIWA field experiment dataset supports several published studies which give an overview of the measurements during the campaign, analyze the dynamical features in which the LLC develop, and quantify the processes involved in the LLC formation. Based on the main results of these studies and new analyses, we propose in this paper a conceptual model of the diurnal cycle of the LLC over southern West Africa. Four main phases compose the diurnal cycle of the LLC. The stable and the jet phases are the two steps during which the relative humidity increases, due to the cooling of the air, until the air is saturated and the LLC form. The horizontal advection of cold air from the Guinean coast by the maritime inflow and the nocturnal low level jet (NLLJ) represents 50&amp;thinsp;% of the total cooling. The remaining half is mainly due to divergence of net radiation and turbulence flux. The third step of the LLC diurnal cycle is the stratus phase which starts during the night and lasts until the onset of buoyancy driven turbulence on the following day. During the stratus phase, interactions between the LLC and NLLJ imply a modification of the wind speed vertical profile in the cloud layer, and a mixing of the subcloud layer by shear-driven turbulence below the NLLJ core. The breakup of the LLC occurs during the convective phase and can follow three different scenarios which depend on the intensity of the shear-driven turbulence observed during the night. The breakup time has a considerable impact on the energy balance of the Earth's surface and, consequently, on the depth of the convective boundary layer, which could vary by a factor of two from day-to-day.</p>
doi:10.5194/acp-2019-566 fatcat:yi3uk4bgbvdjbezrmpuokha2f4