Articles | Volume 26, issue 3
26 Mar 2008
 | 26 Mar 2008

Interdependence of tropical cirrus properties and their variability

S. V. Sunilkumar, K. Parameswaran, and Bijoy V. Thampi

Abstract. The mean properties of tropical cirrus, such as cloud top, cloud base, optic centre, cloud strength/optical depth, asymmetry factor and cloud depolarization, as well as their heterogeneities are examined using lidar observations over 281 nights from a tropical station Gadanki (13.5° N, 79.2° E) during the period 1998–2002. This study shows that as the cloud optical depth (τc) increases the cloud becomes more asymmetric in its scattering property. The amount of asymmetry is less than 2% for very low values of (τc and increases nonlinearly with an increase in (τc. The physical properties of these clouds also show significant variation with different time scales during the course of each night. On average, while the short-term variations in (τc are in opposite phase with those of the asymmetry factor (ξ) and volume depolarization ratio (δ), the long-term variation in (τc extending over a night are found to be in opposite phase with that of ξ and in-phase with that of δ. The short-term variations in δ and (τc were attributed to possible changes in the cloud particle orientation and the long period variations to cloud evolution process. The value of δ shows a pronounced variation along the vertical, with low values near the cloud top and cloud base and high values in the middle, which is attributed to the cloud dynamics.