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Improvements of Satellite-Derived Cyclonic Rainfall over the North Atlantic

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  • 1 Max-Planck-Institut für Meteorologie, and Meteorologisches Institut, Universität Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany
  • | 2 Max-Planck-Institut für Meteorologie, Hamburg, Germany
  • | 3 Max-Planck-Institut für Meteorologie, and Meteorologisches Institut, Universität Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany
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Abstract

Case studies of rainfall, derived from Special Sensor Microwave Imager (SSM/I) satellite data during the passage of individual cyclones over the North Atlantic, are presented to enhance the knowledge of rainfall processes associated with frontal systems. A multisatellite method is applied for complete coverage of the North Atlantic twice a day. Different SSM/I precipitation algorithms have been tested for individual cyclones and compared to the Global Precipitation Climatology Project (GPCP) datasets. An independent rainfall pattern and intensity validation method is presented using voluntary observing ship (VOS) datasets and Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) images.

Intense cyclones occur frequently in the wintertime period, with cold fronts propagating far south over the North Atlantic. Following upstream, large cloud clusters are frequently embedded in the cellular structured cold air of the backside regions, which produce heavy convective rainfall events, especially in the region off Newfoundland around 50°N. These storms can be easily identified on AVHRR images. It transpired that only the SSM/I rainfall algorithm of Bauer and Schlüssel is sensitive enough to detect the rainfall patterns and intensities observed by VOS for those cyclone types over the North Atlantic. In contrast, the GPCP products do not recognize this backside rainfall, whereas the frontal rainfall conditions are well represented in all tested datasets. This is suggested from the results of an intensive intercomparison study with ship reports from the time period of the Fronts and Atlantic Storm Track Experiment (FASTEX) field campaign. For this purpose, a new technique has been developed to transfer ship report codes into rain-rate estimates. From the analysis of a complete life cycle of a cyclone, it follows that these mesoscale backside rainfall events contribute up to 25% to the total amount of rainfall in North Atlantic cyclones.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Christian-Philipp Klepp, Max-Planck-Institut für Meteorologie, Bundesstr. 55, 20146 Hamburg, Germany. Email: klepp@dkrz.de

Abstract

Case studies of rainfall, derived from Special Sensor Microwave Imager (SSM/I) satellite data during the passage of individual cyclones over the North Atlantic, are presented to enhance the knowledge of rainfall processes associated with frontal systems. A multisatellite method is applied for complete coverage of the North Atlantic twice a day. Different SSM/I precipitation algorithms have been tested for individual cyclones and compared to the Global Precipitation Climatology Project (GPCP) datasets. An independent rainfall pattern and intensity validation method is presented using voluntary observing ship (VOS) datasets and Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) images.

Intense cyclones occur frequently in the wintertime period, with cold fronts propagating far south over the North Atlantic. Following upstream, large cloud clusters are frequently embedded in the cellular structured cold air of the backside regions, which produce heavy convective rainfall events, especially in the region off Newfoundland around 50°N. These storms can be easily identified on AVHRR images. It transpired that only the SSM/I rainfall algorithm of Bauer and Schlüssel is sensitive enough to detect the rainfall patterns and intensities observed by VOS for those cyclone types over the North Atlantic. In contrast, the GPCP products do not recognize this backside rainfall, whereas the frontal rainfall conditions are well represented in all tested datasets. This is suggested from the results of an intensive intercomparison study with ship reports from the time period of the Fronts and Atlantic Storm Track Experiment (FASTEX) field campaign. For this purpose, a new technique has been developed to transfer ship report codes into rain-rate estimates. From the analysis of a complete life cycle of a cyclone, it follows that these mesoscale backside rainfall events contribute up to 25% to the total amount of rainfall in North Atlantic cyclones.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Christian-Philipp Klepp, Max-Planck-Institut für Meteorologie, Bundesstr. 55, 20146 Hamburg, Germany. Email: klepp@dkrz.de

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