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Urbanization Causes Increased Cloud Base Height and Decreased Fog in Coastal Southern CaliforniaSubtropical marine stratus clouds regulate coastal and global climate, but future trends in these clouds are uncertain. In coastal Southern California (CSCA), interannual variations in summer stratus cloud occurrence are spatially coherent across 24 airfields and dictated by positive relationships with stability above the marine boundary layer (MBL) and MBL height. Trends, however, have been spatially variable since records began in the mid-1900s due to differences in nighttime warming. Among CSCA airfields, differences in nighttime warming, but not daytime warming, are strongly and positively related to fraction of nearby urban cover, consistent with an urban heat island effect. Nighttime warming raises the near-surface dew point depression, which lifts the altitude of condensation and cloud base height, thereby reducing fog frequency. Continued urban warming, rising cloud base heights, and associated effects on energy and water balance would profoundly impact ecological and human systems in highly populated and ecologically diverse CSCA.
Document ID
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
External Source(s)
Williams, A. Park
(Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory Palisades, NY, United States)
Schwartz, Rachel E.
(Scripps Institution of Oceanography San Diego, CA, United States)
Iacobellis, Sam
(Scripps Institution of Oceanography San Diego, CA, United States)
Seager, Richard
(Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory Palisades, NY, United States)
Cook, Benjamin I.
(NASA Goddard Inst. for Space Studies New York, NY United States)
Still, Christopher J.
(Oregon State Univ. Corvallis, OR, United States)
Husak, Gregory
(California Univ. Santa Barbara, CA, United States)
Michaelsen, Joel
(California Univ. Santa Barbara, CA, United States)
Date Acquired
December 18, 2015
Publication Date
March 12, 2015
Publication Information
Publication: Geophysical Research Letters
Publisher: Wiley
Volume: 42
Issue: 5
Subject Category
Meteorology And Climatology
Report/Patent Number
Funding Number(s)
WBS: WBS 509496.
Distribution Limits
marine meteorology
stratus clouds

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