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How Does Land Cover and Its Heterogeneity Length Scales Affect the Formation of Summertime Shallow Cumulus Clouds in Observations From the US Southern Great Plains?


This study investigates the effects of heterogeneous land covers on shallow cumulus (ShCu) clouds at the US Southern Great Plains using high-resolution satellite and land cover data. During late summer, ShCu occurs over cities the most frequently and over open waters the least frequently, and more often over forest than over grassland. The preferential occurrence of ShCu over forest relative to grassland is consistent with surface measurements showing larger heat fluxes over forests. This preferential occurrence also varies with the length scales of land patches with the largest cloud occurrence difference shifting from smaller length scales (<9 km) during midday to larger scales (>9 km) in the early afternoon. Consistent with theory, these signals are more pronounced under low wind conditions. The preferential length scale shift with time suggests the existence of secondary circulations that strengthen and promote convergence over larger spatial scales as the differential land surface heating intensifies.

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