Cloud base and top heights in the Hawaiian region determined with satellite and groundbased measurements Academic Article uri icon


  • We present a multiyear climatology of cloudbaseheight (CBH), cloudtopheight (CTH), and trade wind inversion base height (TWIBH) for the Hawaiian region (18N22.5N, 153.7W160.7W). The new climatology is based on data from the CloudAerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite (CALIPSO), the Constellation Observing System for Meteorology Ionosphere and Climate (COSMIC), ceilometer observations and radiosondes. The climatology reported here is well suited to evaluate climate model simulations and can serve as a reference state for studies of the impact of climate change on Hawaiian ecosystems. The averaged CBH from CALIPSO in the Hawaiian Region is 890m. The mean CTH from CALIPSO is 2110m, which is close to the mean TWIBH from COSMIC. For nonprecipitating cases, the mean TWIBH at both Lihue and Hilo is close to 2000m. For precipitating cases, the mean TWIBH is 2450m and 2280m at Hilo and Lihue, respectively. The potential cloud thickness (PCT) is defined as the difference between TWIBH and CBH and the mean PCT is several hundred meters thicker for precipitating than for the nonprecipitating cases at both stations. We find that the PCT is more strongly correlated to the TWIBH than the CBH and that precipitation is unlikely to occur if the TWIBH is below 1500m. The observed rainfall intensity is correlated to the PCT, i.e., thicker clouds are more likely to produce heavy rain.

published proceedings

  • Geophysical Research Letters

author list (cited authors)

  • Zhang, C., Wang, Y., Lauer, A., Hamilton, K., & Xie, F.

citation count

  • 85

complete list of authors

  • Zhang, Chunxi||Wang, Yuqing||Lauer, Axel||Hamilton, Kevin||Xie, Feiqin

publication date

  • August 2012