Spatial and seasonal variability of clouds over the southwest Indian Ocean based on the DARDAR mask product

Vérèmes, Hélène ; Listowski, Constantino ; Delanoë, Julien ; Barthe, Christelle ; Tulet, Pierre ; Bonnardot, François ; Roy, Denis

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<p align=justify>We present a characterization of the variability of clouds over the southwest Indian Ocean between 2007 and 2010. Cloud occurrence is derived from the DARDAR (raDAR/liDAR) mask, a synergistic product based on Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observation (CALIPSO) and CloudSat measurements. It provides a target classification for hydrometeors. We demonstrate that this product is suitable for studying the vertical, spatial and seasonal cloud distribution in the southwest Indian Ocean. The variability of cloud occurrence increases approaching the tropics: the average maximum amplitude of monthly occurrence is ?7% between 30°S and 60°S and ?14% between 10°S and 30°S. The 10-30°S latitudinal band exhibits the largest contrasts: summer (winter) total cloud occurrence is mainly driven by high- (low-) level clouds. The vertical distribution of clouds differs on either side of 55°E and this is related to a land-ocean contrast and to large-scale influence. In winter, east of 55°E, the maximum of cloud occurrence corresponds to warm and mixed-phased precipitating clouds associated with the Mascarene High. In summer, west of 55°E, the vertical distribution of cloud occurrence is driven by deep convection associated with the InterTropical Convergence Zone and the Near Equatorial Trough. The vertical distribution of cloud occurrence shows an interannual variability that is related to El Niño events. The influence of other oscillation modes should be further investigated.</p>
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