Print version ISSN 0187-6236
AZORIN-MOLINA, C; SANCHEZ-LORENZO, A and CALBO, J. A climatological study of sea breeze clouds in the southeast of the Iberian Peninsula (Alicante, Spain). Atmósfera [online]. 2009, vol.22, n.1, pp. 33-49. ISSN 0187-6236.
Sea breezes blow under anticyclonic weather types, weak surface pressure gradients, intense solar radiation and relatively cloud-free skies. Generally, total cloud cover must be less than 4/8 in order to cause a thermal and pressure difference between land and sea air which allows the development of this local wind circulation. However, many numerical and observational studies have analyzed the ability of sea breezes to generate clouds in the convective internal boundary layer and in the sea breeze convergence zone. Accordingly, the aim of this study is to statistically analyze the impact of sea breezes on cloud types in the convective internal boundary layer and in the sea breeze convergence zone. The study area is located in the southeast of the Iberian Peninsula (province of Alicante, Spain) and the survey corresponds to a 6-yr study period (2000-2005). This climatological study is mainly based on surface cloud observations at the Alicante-Ciudad Jardín station (central coastal plain) and on an extensive cloud observation field campaign at the Villena-Ciudad station (Prebetic mountain ranges) over a 3-yr study period (2003-2005). The results confirm the hypothesis that the effect of sea breezes on cloud genera is to increase the frequency of low (Stratus) and convective (Cumulus) clouds. Sea breezes trigger the formation of thunderstorm clouds (Cumulonimbus) at the sea breeze convergence zone, which also have a secondary impact on high-level (Cirrus, Cirrocumulus, Cirrostratus), medium-level (Altostratus, Altocumulus) and low-level clouds (Stratus, Stratocumulus, Nimbostratus) associated with the Cumulonimbus clouds (e.g., Cumulonimbus anvil).
Keywords : Sea breezes; convective internal boundary layer; sea breeze convergence zone; cloud genera; total cloud cover; southeast Iberian Peninsula.