Lightning Frequency and Microphysical Properties of Precipitating Clouds over the Western North Pacific during Winter as Derived from TRMM Multisensor Observations

Yasu-Masa Kodama Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Hirosaki University, Hirosaki, Aomori, Japan

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Haruna Okabe Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Hirosaki University, Hirosaki, Aomori, Japan

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Yukie Tomisaka Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Hirosaki University, Hirosaki, Aomori, Japan

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Katsuya Kotono Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Hirosaki University, Hirosaki, Aomori, Japan

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Yoshimi Kondo Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Hirosaki University, Hirosaki, Aomori, Japan

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Hideyuki Kasuya Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Hirosaki University, Hirosaki, Aomori, Japan

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Abstract

Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission observations from multiple sensors including precipitation radar, microwave and infrared radiometers, and a lightning sensor were used to describe precipitation, lightning frequency, and microphysical properties of precipitating clouds over the midlatitude ocean. Precipitation over midlatitude oceans was intense during winter and was often accompanied by frequent lightning. Case studies over the western North Pacific from January and February 2000 showed that some lightning occurred in deep precipitating clouds that developed around cyclones and their attendant fronts. Lightning also occurred in convective clouds that developed in regions of large-scale subsidence behind extratropical cyclones where cold polar air masses were strongly heated and moistened from below by the ocean. The relationships between lightning frequency and the minimum polarization corrected temperature (PCT) at 37 and 85 GHz and the profile of the maximum radar reflectivity resembled relationships derived previously for cases in the Tropics. Smaller lapse rates in the maximum radar reflectivity above the melting level indicate vigorous convection that, although shallow and relatively rare, was as strong as convection over tropical oceans. Lightning was most frequent in systems for which the minimum PCT at 37 GHz was less than 260 K. Lightning and PCT at 85 GHz were not as well correlated as lightning and PCT at 37 GHz. Thus, lightning was frequent in convective clouds that contained many large hydrometeors in the mixed-phase layer, because PCT is more sensitive to large hydrometeors at 37 than at 85 GHz. The relationship between lightning occurrence and cloud-top heights derived from infrared observations was not straightforward. Microphysical conditions that support lightning over the midlatitude ocean in winter were similar to conditions in the Tropics and are consistent with Takahashi’s theory of riming electrification.

* Current affiliation: NTT DATA Creation Corporation, Tokyo, Japan

+ Current affiliation: Iwai High School, Bando, Ibaraki, Japan

# Current affiliation: Fujitsu FIP Co., Tokyo, Japan

Corresponding author address: Yasu-Masa Kodama, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Hirosaki University, 3 Bunkyo-cho, Hirosaki, Aomori 036-8561, Japan. Email: kodama@cc.hirosaki-u.ac.jp

Abstract

Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission observations from multiple sensors including precipitation radar, microwave and infrared radiometers, and a lightning sensor were used to describe precipitation, lightning frequency, and microphysical properties of precipitating clouds over the midlatitude ocean. Precipitation over midlatitude oceans was intense during winter and was often accompanied by frequent lightning. Case studies over the western North Pacific from January and February 2000 showed that some lightning occurred in deep precipitating clouds that developed around cyclones and their attendant fronts. Lightning also occurred in convective clouds that developed in regions of large-scale subsidence behind extratropical cyclones where cold polar air masses were strongly heated and moistened from below by the ocean. The relationships between lightning frequency and the minimum polarization corrected temperature (PCT) at 37 and 85 GHz and the profile of the maximum radar reflectivity resembled relationships derived previously for cases in the Tropics. Smaller lapse rates in the maximum radar reflectivity above the melting level indicate vigorous convection that, although shallow and relatively rare, was as strong as convection over tropical oceans. Lightning was most frequent in systems for which the minimum PCT at 37 GHz was less than 260 K. Lightning and PCT at 85 GHz were not as well correlated as lightning and PCT at 37 GHz. Thus, lightning was frequent in convective clouds that contained many large hydrometeors in the mixed-phase layer, because PCT is more sensitive to large hydrometeors at 37 than at 85 GHz. The relationship between lightning occurrence and cloud-top heights derived from infrared observations was not straightforward. Microphysical conditions that support lightning over the midlatitude ocean in winter were similar to conditions in the Tropics and are consistent with Takahashi’s theory of riming electrification.

* Current affiliation: NTT DATA Creation Corporation, Tokyo, Japan

+ Current affiliation: Iwai High School, Bando, Ibaraki, Japan

# Current affiliation: Fujitsu FIP Co., Tokyo, Japan

Corresponding author address: Yasu-Masa Kodama, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Hirosaki University, 3 Bunkyo-cho, Hirosaki, Aomori 036-8561, Japan. Email: kodama@cc.hirosaki-u.ac.jp

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