The Geostationary Earth Radiation Budget instrument on Meteosat-8, located over Africa, provides unprecedented temporal sampling (~17 minutes) of the broadband emitted thermal and reflected solar radiances. We analyse the diurnal cycle of the outgoing longwave radiation (OLR) fluxes derived from the thermal radiances for July 2006. Principal component (PC) analysis separates the signals of the surface temperature response to solar heating and of the development of convective clouds. The first two PCs explain most of the OLR variations: PC1 (surface heating) explains 82.3% of the total variance and PC2 (cloud development) explains 12.8% of the variance. Convection is initiated preferentially over mountainous regions and the cloud then advects downstream in the ambient flow. Diurnal variations are much weaker over the oceans, but a coherent signal over the Gulf of Guinea suggests that the cloudiness is modulated by the diurnally varying contrast between the Gulf and the adjacent land mass
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