Spatio-temporal Characterization of Clouds, Aerosols and Radiation

Satellite and additional data are used to improve the understanding of atmospheric processes and to investigate life cycles of clouds and their interaction with aerosols and radiation. The improved understanding is utilized for the evaluation of atmospheric models.

Current Research Topics

Our working group currently deals with the following research topics:

  • Life cycles of shallow cumulus cloud fields: Our aim is to characterize the life cycles of shallow cumulus clouds fields from formation to dissipation. Suitable tracking methods are used to study the evolution of these cloud fields in a Lagrangian perspective. We apply several satellite retrievals to calculate their physical and geometrical cloud properties. Estimated statistical parameters like the horizontal cloud size distribution and mean cloud field life times are compared with high resolution model output.
  • Initiation and growth of deep convective clouds: The initiation and growth of deep convective clouds is driven by a complex interaction of different parameters (e.g. uplifting processes, inversion layers, available moisture) that can cause mature thunderstorms. By using Meteosat data we investigate the dynamical and micro-physical properties of growing clouds during their life cycles to improve the understanding of initiation mechanisms.
  • Micro-physical properties of mature storms and their connection to lightning and hail events The temporal evolution of mature storms is quantified by a synergistic analysis of precipitation radar, lightning detection and derived cloud properties from satellite data. Indicators and predictors for the thunderstorm intensity are analyzed.
  • Integrating ground-based and spaceborne cloud observations to characterize frontal cloud systems The realistic representation of cloud processes is still a big challenge for atmospheric research. The most accurate observations are currently performed at a few number of supersites worldwide (e.g. LACROS). To enable the comparison of ground-based vertical cloud profile with satellite measurements we have developed a methods based on radiative transfer modeling. The main result is a merged data set of micro- and macrophysical cloud properties considering two perspectives, from ground and space. Based on this method we study the temporal evolution of frontal cloud systems.
  • Evaluation of atmospheric models One focus of our research group is the evaluation of regional weather prediction models by using Meteosat data. The Meteosat imager has a horizontal resolution similar to the resolution of regional models and thus is suitable for comparison with them. We apply an object based method to verify model predicted summer convection. Additionally, the uncertainties of synthetic satellite images are analyzed in order to evaluate mineral dust forecasts.