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Paul E. Ciesielski and Richard H. Johnson


During the Dynamics of the MJO (DYNAMO) field campaign, radiosonde launches were regularly conducted from three small islands/atolls (Malé and Gan, Maldives, and Diego Garcia, British Indian Ocean Territory) as part of a large-scale sounding network. Comparison of island upsondes with nearby and near-contemporaneous dropsondes over the ocean provides evidence for the magnitude and scope of the islands’ influence on the surrounding atmosphere and on the island upsonde profiles. The island’s impact on the upsonde data is most prominent in the lowest 200 m. Noting that the vertical gradients of temperature, moisture, and winds over the ocean are generally constant in the lowest 0.5 km of dropsondes, a simple procedure was constructed to adjust the upsonde profiles in the lowest few hundred meters to resemble the atmospheric structures over the open ocean. This procedure was applied to the soundings from the three islands mentioned above for the October–December 2011 period of DYNAMO. As a result of this procedure, the adjusted diurnal cycle amplitude of surface temperature is reduced fivefold, resembling that over the ocean, and low-level wind speeds are increased in ~90% of the island soundings. Examination of the impact of these sounding adjustments shows that dynamical and budget fields are primarily affected by adjustments to the wind field, whereas convective parameters are sensitive to the adjustments in thermodynamic fields. Although the impact of the adjustments is generally small (on the order of a few percent), intraseasonal wind regime changes result in some systematic variations in divergence and vertical motion over the sounding arrays.

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Jianhao Zhang, Paquita Zuidema, David D. Turner, and Maria P. Cadeddu


The interactions between equatorial convection and humidity as a function of height, at a range of time scales, remain an important research frontier. The ability of surface-based microwave radiometry to contribute to such research is assessed using retrievals of the vertical structure of atmospheric humidity above the equatorial Indian Ocean, developed as part of the Dynamics of Madden–Julian Oscillation field campaign. The optimally estimated humidity retrievals are based on radiances at five frequencies spanning 20–30 GHz and are constrained by radiometer-derived water vapor paths that compare well to radiosonde values except in highly convective conditions. The moisture retrievals possess a robust 2 degrees of freedom, allowing the atmosphere to be treated as two independent layers. A mean bias of 1 g kg−1 contains a vertical structure that is removed in the assessments. The retrieved moisture profiles are able to capture humidity variability within two layer averages at intraseasonal, synoptic, and daily time scales. The retrieved humidity profiles at hourly scales are qualitatively correct under synoptically suppressed conditions but with an exaggerated vertical bimodality. The retrievals do not match radiosonde profiles within most of the day prior to/after convection. This analysis serves to better delineate applications for radiometers. Radiometers can usefully augment more expensive radiosonde networks for longer-term monitoring given careful cross-instrument calibration. At shorter time scales, a synergism with additional instruments can likely increase the realism of the retrievals.

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Elizabeth J. Thompson, Steven A. Rutledge, Brenda Dolan, Merhala Thurai, and V. Chandrasekar


Dual-polarization radar rainfall estimation relationships have been extensively tested in continental and subtropical coastal rain regimes, with little testing over tropical oceans where the majority of rain on Earth occurs. A 1.5-yr Indo-Pacific warm pool disdrometer dataset was used to quantify the impacts of tropical oceanic drop-size distribution (DSD) variability on dual-polarization radar variables and their resulting utility for rainfall estimation. Variables that were analyzed include differential reflectivity Z dr; specific differential phase K dp; reflectivity Z h; and specific attenuation A h. When compared with continental or coastal convection, tropical oceanic Z dr and K dp values were more often of low magnitude (<0.5 dB, <0.3° km−1) and Z dr was lower for a given K dp or Z h, consistent with observations of tropical oceanic DSDs being dominated by numerous, small, less-oblate drops. New X-, C-, and S-band R estimators were derived: R(K dp), R(A h), R(K dp, ζ dr), R(z, ζ dr), and R(A h, ζ dr), which use linear versions of Z dr and Z h, namely ζ dr and z. Except for R(K dp), convective/stratiform partitioning was unnecessary for these estimators. All dual-polarization estimators outperformed updated R(z) estimators derived from the same dataset. The best-performing estimator was R(K dp, ζ dr), followed by R(A h, ζ dr) and R(z, ζ dr). The R error was further reduced in an updated blended algorithm choosing between R(z), R(z, ζ dr), R(K dp), and R(K dp, ζ dr) depending on Z dr > 0.25 dB and K dp > 0.3° km−1 thresholds. Because of these thresholds and the lack of hail, R(K dp) was never used. At all wavelengths, R(z) was still needed 43% of the time during light rain (R < 5 mm h−1, Z dr < 0.25 dB), composing 7% of the total rain volume. As wavelength decreased, R(K dp, ζ dr) was used more often, R(z, ζ dr) was used less often, and the blended algorithm became increasingly more accurate than R(z).

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