Vegetation and topographic control of cloud activity over arid/semiarid Asia



[1] Cloud patterns over arid/semi-arid area in the Northeast Asia are investigated by statistical analysis of the satellite observations in relation to the roles of topography and vegetation contrasts. In the morning, cloud frequencies are high over the mountainous areas in the northern Mongolia. In the afternoon and early evening, the frequencies increase in the entire analyzed domain. The frequencies are prominently enhanced over the slopes and mountains. The upslope wind prevails during the daytime where vegetation contrasts are not sharp or the slope is steep, even though vegetation covers the mountain which tends to cool the mountain slope. The land-cover-induced cloud formations are distinctly observed where the slope is gentle and vegetation contrast is sharp enough to form a prominent surface temperature contrast. Around the Yellow River, the cloud frequency rapidly increases in the afternoon due to the vegetation contrast, whereas it remains very low over the river. We hypothesized that the smaller sensible heat flux from the vegetated surface suppresses the development of the daytime mixed layer. Thus the cumulus clouds near top of the mixed layer are difficult to form. It is inferred from the statistical analysis that the afforestation of the desertified lands may cause the decrease of cloud frequency above it.