Statistics on the macrophysical properties of trade wind cumuli over the tropical western Atlantic

Guangyu Zhao, Larry Di Girolamo

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


This study presents a comprehensive statistical overview of the macrophysical properties of trade wind cumulus clouds over the tropical western Atlantic using 152 scenes taken from the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) between September and December 2004. The size distribution, shapes, and spatial distribution of cumulus clouds were examined with ASTER near-infrared data at 15 m resolution. The height distribution of these cumulus clouds was derived from ASTER thermal infrared data at 90 m resolution. The size distribution of cumuli exhibited a power law form and an exponent of 2.19 with a correlation coefficient of 0.99 using a direct power law fit method. The total cloud fraction of trade wind cumulus was 0.086, half of which was contributed from clouds smaller than 2 km in equivalent area diameter. An area-perimeter power law was observed with a dimension of 1.28 and a correlation coefficient of 0.87. The majority of cloudy pixels had cloud top altitudes around 1 km and increasing altitude with increasing cloud equivalent area diameter. Seventy-five percent of clouds have a nearest neighbor within a distance of 10 times their area-equivalent radius. Our results are compared to other studies of small cumulus taken over different parts of the world observed using different instruments. The statistics of cumuli observed in this study are poorly related to synoptic scale meteorological conditions from reanalysis data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberD10204
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research Atmospheres
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 27 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Forestry
  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Palaeontology


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