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Cirrus clouds, humidity, and dehydration in the tropical tropopause layer observed at Paramaribo, Suriname (5.8°N, 55.2°W)

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Immler, F. , Krüger, K. , Tegtmeier, S. , Fujiwara, M. , Fortuin, P. , Verver, G. and Schrems, O. (2007): Cirrus clouds, humidity, and dehydration in the tropical tropopause layer observed at Paramaribo, Suriname (5.8°N, 55.2°W) , Journal of Geophysical Research, 112, D03209 . doi: 10.1029/2006JD007440
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In the framework of the European Project STAR the mobile Aerosol Raman Lidar (MARL) of the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) was operated in Paramaribo/Suriname (5.8°, 55.2°W) and carried out extensive observations of tropical cirrus clouds during the fall dry season from September 28 to November 15 2004. With 81% the coverage with ice clouds was very high in the upper troposphere (above 12 km). The frequency of occurrence of subvisible clouds was found to be clearly enhanced compared to the midlatitudes. The extinction-to-backscatter ratio of thin tropical cirrus is with 26 ± 7 sr significantly higher than that of mid-latitude cirrus (16 ± 9 sr).Subvisible cirrus occur mostly in the tropical tropopause layer (TTL) abovean upper tropospheric inversion. The formation conditions of these cloudsand the dehydration of the TTL was investigated by means of a newly developed trajectory model. Clouds were assumed to occur when the relativehumidity above ice (RHI) exceeds 100% due to adiabatic cooling and subsequently the humidity is reduced to the saturation vapor pressure. This simple dehydration scheme yields an amazingly good agreement with cloud andhumidity observations at Paramaribo. However, it challenges the way cirrusformation is generally conceived, since high supersaturation were thoughtto be required. Our results suggest, that the inclination of the TTL to contain solid particles is rather high, even under modestly moist conditions. Wealso detected extremely thin layers of solid particles slightly above the temperature minimum in sub-saturated air which are possibly stabilized by HNO3.

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