Contribution of Tropical Cyclones to Global Very Deep Convection

Haiyan Jiang Department of Earth and Environment, Florida International University, Miami, Florida

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Cheng Tao Department of Earth and Environment, Florida International University, Miami, Florida

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Abstract

Based on the 12-yr (1998–2009) Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) precipitation feature (PF) database, both radar and infrared (IR) observations from TRMM are used to quantify the contribution of tropical cyclones (TCs) to very deep convection (VDC) in the tropics and to compare TRMM-derived properties of VDC in TCs and non-TCs. Using a radar-based definition, it is found that the contribution of TCs to total VDC in the tropics is not much higher than the contribution of TCs to total PFs. However, the area-based contribution of TCs to overshooting convection defined by IR is 13.3%, which is much higher than the 3.2% contribution of TCs to total PFs. This helps explain the contradictory results between previous radar-based and IR-based studies and indicates that TCs only contribute disproportionately large amount of overshooting convection containing mainly small ice particles that are barely detected by the TRMM radar. VDC in non-TCs over land has the highest maximum 30- and 40-dBZ height and the strongest ice-scattering signature derived from microwave 85- and 37-GHz observations, while VDC in TCs has the coldest minimum IR brightness temperature and largest overshooting distance and area. This suggests that convection is much more intense in non-TCs over land but is much deeper or colder in TCs. It is found that VDC in TCs usually has smaller environmental shear but larger total precipitable water and convective available potential energy than those in non-TCs. These findings offer evidence that TCs may contribute disproportionately to troposphere-to-stratosphere heat and moisture exchange.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Haiyan Jiang, Department of Earth and Environment, Florida International University, 11200 SW 8th St., PC-342B, Miami, FL 33199. E-mail: haiyan.jiang@fiu.edu

Abstract

Based on the 12-yr (1998–2009) Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) precipitation feature (PF) database, both radar and infrared (IR) observations from TRMM are used to quantify the contribution of tropical cyclones (TCs) to very deep convection (VDC) in the tropics and to compare TRMM-derived properties of VDC in TCs and non-TCs. Using a radar-based definition, it is found that the contribution of TCs to total VDC in the tropics is not much higher than the contribution of TCs to total PFs. However, the area-based contribution of TCs to overshooting convection defined by IR is 13.3%, which is much higher than the 3.2% contribution of TCs to total PFs. This helps explain the contradictory results between previous radar-based and IR-based studies and indicates that TCs only contribute disproportionately large amount of overshooting convection containing mainly small ice particles that are barely detected by the TRMM radar. VDC in non-TCs over land has the highest maximum 30- and 40-dBZ height and the strongest ice-scattering signature derived from microwave 85- and 37-GHz observations, while VDC in TCs has the coldest minimum IR brightness temperature and largest overshooting distance and area. This suggests that convection is much more intense in non-TCs over land but is much deeper or colder in TCs. It is found that VDC in TCs usually has smaller environmental shear but larger total precipitable water and convective available potential energy than those in non-TCs. These findings offer evidence that TCs may contribute disproportionately to troposphere-to-stratosphere heat and moisture exchange.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Haiyan Jiang, Department of Earth and Environment, Florida International University, 11200 SW 8th St., PC-342B, Miami, FL 33199. E-mail: haiyan.jiang@fiu.edu
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