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The Variation of the Intensity, Height, and Size of Precipitation Systems with El Niño–Southern Oscillation in the Tropics and Subtropics

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  • 1 Department of Physical and Environmental Sciences, Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi, Texas
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Abstract

A 16-yr (1998–2013) Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) Precipitation Feature (PF) database is used to examine the impacts of El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) on the characteristics of precipitation systems in the tropics and subtropics. Noticeable differences in the fractions of deep systems (20-dBZ radar echo tops greater than 10 km) and mesoscale convective systems (MCSs) (an area greater than 2000 km2) between different phases of ENSO are found over specific regions, including the central Pacific (CPACI), the western Maritime Continent (WMC), the eastern Maritime Continent (EMC), Gulf of Mexico (GM), Argentina (ARGEN), and Australia (AUS). The coefficients of determination R2 between the multivariate ENSO index (MEI) and the population fractions of deep convection and MCSs are analyzed seasonally over these regions. The responses from these precipitation systems to ENSO are found to be more pronounced in the winter half-year than in the summer half-year. An increase of rainfall during El Niño periods over the CPACI, GM, and ARGEN is found to be associated with more precipitation events and a higher fraction of intense, deep, and large precipitation systems. AUS has fewer precipitation events and a higher fraction of shallow and small precipitation systems during El Niño conditions. Both EMC and WMC have a higher fraction of MCSs during La Niña than El Niño conditions. The EMC observes a higher fraction of deep convection during La Niña conditions. However, the WMC has a higher fraction of deep convection during El Niño conditions, possibly related to the effect of the Indian Ocean dipole.

© 2019 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Nana Liu, nliu@islander.tamucc.edu

Abstract

A 16-yr (1998–2013) Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) Precipitation Feature (PF) database is used to examine the impacts of El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) on the characteristics of precipitation systems in the tropics and subtropics. Noticeable differences in the fractions of deep systems (20-dBZ radar echo tops greater than 10 km) and mesoscale convective systems (MCSs) (an area greater than 2000 km2) between different phases of ENSO are found over specific regions, including the central Pacific (CPACI), the western Maritime Continent (WMC), the eastern Maritime Continent (EMC), Gulf of Mexico (GM), Argentina (ARGEN), and Australia (AUS). The coefficients of determination R2 between the multivariate ENSO index (MEI) and the population fractions of deep convection and MCSs are analyzed seasonally over these regions. The responses from these precipitation systems to ENSO are found to be more pronounced in the winter half-year than in the summer half-year. An increase of rainfall during El Niño periods over the CPACI, GM, and ARGEN is found to be associated with more precipitation events and a higher fraction of intense, deep, and large precipitation systems. AUS has fewer precipitation events and a higher fraction of shallow and small precipitation systems during El Niño conditions. Both EMC and WMC have a higher fraction of MCSs during La Niña than El Niño conditions. The EMC observes a higher fraction of deep convection during La Niña conditions. However, the WMC has a higher fraction of deep convection during El Niño conditions, possibly related to the effect of the Indian Ocean dipole.

© 2019 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Nana Liu, nliu@islander.tamucc.edu
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