The three-dimensional distribution of clouds over the Southern Hemisphere high latitudes

Kathryn L. Verlinden, David W. J. Thompson, Graeme L. Stephens

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30 Citations (Scopus)


The authors exploit three years of data from the CloudSat and Cloud–Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observation (CALIPSO) satellites to document for the first time the seasonally varying vertical structure of cloudiness throughout Antarctica and the high-latitude Southern Ocean. The results provide a baseline reference of Southern Hemisphere high-latitude cloudiness for future observational and modeling studies, and they highlight several previously undocumented aspects and key features of Antarctic cloudiness.

The key features of high-latitude Southern Hemisphere cloudiness documented here include 1) a pronounced seasonal cycle in cloudiness over the high-latitude Southern Hemisphere, with higher cloud incidences generally found during the winter season over both the Southern Ocean and Antarctica; 2) two distinct maxima in vertical profiles of cloud incidence over the Southern Ocean, one centered near the surface and another centered in the upper troposphere; 3) a nearly discontinuous drop-off in cloudiness near 8 km over much of the continent that peaks during autumn, winter, and spring; 4) large east–west gradients in upper-level cloudiness in the vicinity of the Antarctic Peninsula that peak during the austral spring season; and 5) evidence that cloudiness in the polar stratosphere is marked not by a secondary maximum at stratospheric levels but by a nearly monotonic decrease with height from the tropopause.

Key results are interpreted in the context of the seasonally varying profiles of vertical motion and static stability and compared with results of previous studies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5799–5811
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Climate
Issue number22
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2011


  • Clouds
  • Southern Hemisphere
  • Antarctica
  • Seasonal cycle
  • Stratosphere
  • Satellite observations

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