Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Spatial and temporal patterns of cloud cover and fog inundation in coastal California: Ecological implications

March 16, 2016

The presence of low-lying stratocumulus clouds and fog has been known to modify biophysical and ecological properties in coastal California where forests are frequently shaded by low-lying clouds or immersed in fog during otherwise warm and dry summer months. Summer fog and stratus can ameliorate summer drought stress and enhance soil water budgets, and often have different spatial and temporal patterns. Here we use remote sensing datasets to characterize the spatial and temporal patterns of cloud cover over California’s northern Channel Islands. We found marine stratus to be persistent from May through September across the years 2001-2012. Stratus clouds were both most frequent and had the greatest spatial extent in July. Clouds typically formed in the evening, and dissipated by the following early afternoon. We present a novel method to downscale satellite imagery using atmospheric observations and discriminate patterns of fog from those of stratus and help explain patterns of fog deposition previously studied on the islands. The outcomes of this study contribute significantly to our ability to quantify the occurrence of coastal fog at biologically meaningful spatial and temporal scales that can improve our understanding of cloud-ecosystem interactions, species distributions and coastal ecohydrology.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2016
Title Spatial and temporal patterns of cloud cover and fog inundation in coastal California: Ecological implications
DOI 10.1175/EI-D-15-0033.1
Authors Bharat Rastogi, A. Park Williams, Douglas T. Fischer, Sam F. Iacobellis, Kathryn McEachern, Leila Carvalho, Charles Leslie Jones, Sara A. Baguskas, Christopher J. Still
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Earth Interactions
Index ID 70169068
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Western Ecological Research Center