In-Situ Measurements of Cirrus Clouds on a Global Scale

Gary Lloyd, Martin Gallagher, Tom Choularton, Martina Krämer, Andreas Petzold, Darrel Baumgardner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Observations of high-altitude cirrus clouds are reported from measurements made during the routine monitoring of cloud properties on the commercial aircraft as part of the In-Service Aircraft for a Global Observing System. The increasing global scale of the measurements is revealed, with 7 years of in situ data producing a unique and rapidly growing dataset. We find that cloud fractions measured ≥ 10 km at aircraft cruise altitude are representative of seasonal trends associated with the mid-latitude jet stream in the Northern Hemisphere, and the relatively higher cloud fractions are found in tropical regions such as the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone and South East Asia. Both stratospheric and tropospheric data were used to calculate the cloud fractions routinely experienced by commercial aircraft. Further work is needed for a direct comparison with previous studies that limit cloud fraction calculations to tropospheric data only. The characteristics of these clouds are discussed and the potential different formation mechanisms in different regions assessed.
Original languageEnglish
Article number41
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 30 Dec 2020


  • Aircraft
  • Aviation
  • Cirrus
  • Clouds
  • In situ
  • Microphysics


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