Cloud observations from the Geoscience Laser Altimeter System (GLAS) revealed characteristics of cirrus clouds in boreal autumn 2003. The vertical distribution of the central altitude of cirrus peaks 2 km below the climatological tropopause, which is 14.5 km in the tropics and 9.5 km in the northern midlatitudes. The mean location of the peak in deep convection is north of the Equator (7.5°N) but the top of zonally averaged cirrus is almost constant at 14.5 km in the tropics. This suggests that the height of tropical cirrus is closely linked to anvil cirrus from deep convection and lower temperatures in the tropopause symmetric with respect to the Equator. Cirrus clouds in the midlatitudes have a greater optical depth than those at other latitudes. The zonally averaged thickness of cirrus is about 1.6 km regardless of latitude.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)