Liquid water path

Liquid water path - in units of [kg/m²] is a measure of the total amount of liquid water present between two points in the atmosphere.[1]

LWP is an important quantity in understanding radiative transfer in the atmosphere. It is defined as the integral of liquid water content between two points in the atmosphere. For nadir observations and whole atmospheric column we have

where rL is the liquid water mixing ratio and ρair is the density of air (including water loading).[2]

The atmosphere is in approximate hydrostatic equilibrium and hydrostatic equation for atmospheric pressure is given by

which gives

where g is gravitational acceleration, dp is the pressure increment between two layers in the atmosphere and integration is between surface and top of the atmosphere. Liquid water path can also be defined between any two selected points.

The liquid water path can be approximately retrieved from passive and active remote sensing such as microwave radiometer instruments, for example SSM/I.

Typical values of liquid water path in marine stratocumulus can be of the order of 20-80 [g/m²].

See also


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