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Song Yang
and
Eric A. Smith

Abstract

The behavior and various controls of diurnal variability in tropical–subtropical rainfall are investigated using Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) precipitation measurements retrieved from the three level-2 TRMM standard profile algorithms for the 1998 annual cycle. Results show that diurnal variability characteristics of precipitation are consistent for all three algorithms, providing assurance that TRMM retrievals are producing consistent estimates of rainfall variability. As anticipated, most ocean areas exhibit more rainfall at night, while over most land areas, rainfall peaks during daytime; however, important exceptions are noted.

The dominant feature of the oceanic diurnal cycle is a rainfall maximum in late-evening–early-morning (LE–EM) hours, while over land the dominant maximum occurs in the mid- to late afternoon (MLA). In conjunction with these maxima are pronounced seasonal variations of the diurnal amplitudes. Amplitude analysis shows that the diurnal pattern and its seasonal evolution are closely related to the rainfall accumulation pattern and its seasonal evolution. In addition, the horizontal distribution of diurnal variability indicates that for oceanic rainfall, there is a secondary MLA maximum coexisting with the LE–EM maximum at latitudes dominated by large-scale convergence and deep convection. Analogously, there is a preponderancy for an LE–EM maximum over land coexisting with the stronger MLA maximum, although it is not evident that this secondary continental feature is closely associated with the large-scale circulation. Neither of the secondary maxima exhibit phase behavior that can be considered semidiurnal in nature. Diurnal rainfall variability over the ocean associated with large-scale convection is clearly an integral component of the general circulation.

Phase analysis reveals differences in regional and seasonal features of the diurnal cycle, indicating that underlying forcing mechanisms differ from place to place. This is underscored by the appearance of secondary ocean maxima in the presence of large-scale convection, along with other important features. Among these, there are clear-cut differences between the diurnal variability of seasonal rainfall over the mid-Pacific and Indian Ocean Basins. The mid-Pacific exhibits double maxima in spring and winter but only LE–EM maxima in summer and autumn, while the Indian Ocean exhibits double maxima in spring and summer and only an LE–EM maximum in autumn and winter. There are also evident daytime maxima within the major large-scale marine stratocumulus regions off the west coasts of continents. The study concludes with a discussion concerning how the observational evidence either supports or repudiates possible forcing mechanisms that have been suggested to explain diurnal rainfall variability.

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Byung-Ju Sohn
and
Eric A. Smith

Abstract

This study examines a mix of seven statistical and physical Special Sensor Microwave Imager (SSM/I) passive microwave algorithms that were designed for retrieval of over-ocean precipitable water (PW). The aim is to understand and explain why the algorithms exhibit a range of discrepancies with respect to measured PWs and with respect to each other, particularly systematic regional discrepancies that would produce substantive uncertainties in water vapor transports and radiative cooling in the context of climate dynamics. Data analysis is used to explore the nature of the algorithm differences, while radiative transfer analysis is used to explore the influence of several environmental variables (referred to as tangential environmental factors) that affect the PW retrievals. These are sea surface temperature (SST), surface wind speed (U s ), cloud liquid water path (LWP), and vertical profile structure of water vapor [q(z)]. The main datasets include the Wentz matched radiosonde–SSM/I point database consisting of 42 months of globally distributed oceanic radiosonde profiles paired with coincident SSM/I brightness temperatures, and globally compiled instantaneous orbit-swath maps of SSM/I brightness temperatures for January and July 1990.

Results demonstrate that the seemingly good agreement found in past studies and herein, within the conventional framework of scatter diagram analysis that ignores regional classification, gives way to poor agreement in the framework of monthly and zonally averaged differences. It is shown how much of the disagreement inherent to statistical algorithms is due to disjoint training datasets used in deriving algorithm regression coefficients. The investigation also explores how tangential environmental factors composed of variations in SST, U s , cloud LWP, and q(z) structure impart dissimilar errors to retrieved PWs, according to the design of the retrieval algorithms. A discussion on implications of the discrepancies vis-à-vis the Global Energy and Water Cycle Experiment program is given, with suggestions on mitigating discrepancies in algorithm designs.

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Song Yang
and
Eric A. Smith

Abstract

This study addresses the retrieval of tropical open-ocean latent heating using Special Sensor Microwave Imager (SSM/I) satellite measurements. The analysis is carried out for the Tropical Ocean and Global Atmosphere Coupled Ocean–Atmosphere Response Experiment (TOGA COARE) intensive observation period in the western Pacific, much of it focused on the study area of the third WCRP–GPCP Algorithm Intercomparison Project (AIP-3) situated over the TOGA COARE Inner Flux Array (IFA). The retrieval algorithm is a profile-type physical inversion scheme based on the use of multispectral passive microwave (PMW) measurements. It estimates vertically distributed rain rate and latent heating by first retrieving mixing ratio profiles of liquid and frozen hydrometeors and then calculating rain fallout rates and vertical derivatives of the liquid–ice mass fluxes. Various modifications to the existing algorithm are discussed, including a combined visible–infrared–PMW–radar screening scheme for distinguishing among “clear,” “cloud without rain,” and “cloud with rain pixels” to better delineate vertical heating structure. Validation of retrieved rain rates over the AIP-3 study area indicates acceptable accuracy/precision uncertainty levels in terms of intensity, distribution, and time variation.

A procedure is developed for improving the initially retrieved heating profiles based on calibration to shipboard radar measurements. The modified algorithm and calibration scheme were applied to the IFA for estimating vertical profiles of latent heating. An optimum high-quality sounding period (1–17 February 1993) was selected for large-scale diagnostic calculations of apparent heating (Q 1) and moistening (Q 2) to analyze heat-moisture budgets of convective and stratiform cloud systems. Comparison and sensitivity tests indicate that the retrieved latent heating and Q 1/Q 2 calculations are representative. Moisture budget analyses over the IFA were carried out to study the detailed heating structures of clouds, particularly the cumulus scale heating process. This was accomplished by using residuals between the SSM/I-retrieved latent heating and the large scale Q 2 diagnostics. Results show that estimates of daily eddy vertical moisture flux divergence contain sizable uncertainties, however, by averaging over extended periods and vertically integrating to obtain surface latent heat flux transfer, close agreement to independently derived surface evaporation rates is found. This suggests that by combining the SSM/I retrievals with large-scale sounding data, it is possible to shed light on the role of cumulus convection on diabatic heating.

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Amita V. Mehta
and
Eric A. Smith

Abstract

Infrared radiative cooling rates are calculated over the Asian summer monsoon between 5°S–20°N and 40°–135°E at a spatial resolution of 5° × 5° for the summer seasons of 1984 and 1987. A medium spectral resolution infrared radiative transfer model with specified temperature, moisture, clouds, and trace gas distributions is used to obtain the cooling rate profiles. Cloud distributions for the two summers are obtained from Indian National Satellite measurements. Seasonal mean and intraseasonal variations of clouds and radiative cooling rates over a 21–76-day range of periods are examined.

The analysis identifies centers over the central and eastern Indian Ocean, and western Pacific Ocean, along the equator, and along 15°N, where seasonal mean cloud amounts range from 40% to 80% with cloud tops mostly in the middle and upper troposphere. Intraseasonal variability of clouds is also large over these centers (% variances >25%). Consistently, seasonal mean cooling rates are at a maximum (3°–5°C day−1) in the upper troposphere between 300 and 400 mb, related to cloud-top cooling. The cooling rates below 400 mb are between 1° and 3°C day−1. The cooling rates exhibit intraseasonal amplitudes of 1.0°–1.5°C day−1. The largest amplitudes are found between 300 and 500 mb, indicating that cooling rate variability is directly related to intraseasonal variability of convective clouds. Spatial distributions of clouds and cooling rates remain similar during the 1984 and 1987 summer seasons. However, during 1987, intraseasonal amplitudes of deep convective cloud amount and cooling rate over the Indian Ocean are 10%–15% larger than in 1984.

It is shown that intraseasonal variability of cooling rates over the Indian Ocean can perturb convective heating by 10%–30% in the upper and lower troposphere. Based on a one-dimensional radiative–convective equilibrium model, it is estimated that the radiative damping timescale over the Indian Ocean region is ∼3 days. Based on this damping timescale and in conjunction with a model of equatorial Kelvin waves with first baroclinic mode, it is hypothesized that the variable cloud-radiative cooling rates can alter phase speeds of Kelvin waves by up to 60%. This helps explain why the frequency range of intraseasonal oscillations is so broad.

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Eric A. Smith
and
Lei Shi

Abstract

The role of the Tibetan Plateau on the behavior of the surface longwave radiation budget is examined, and the behavior of the vertical profile of longwave cooling over the plateau, including its diurnal variation, is quantified. The investigation has been conducted with the aid of datasets obtained during the 1986 Tibetan Plateau Meteorological Experiment (TIPMEX-86). A medium spectral-resolution infrared radiative transfer model using a simple modification for applications in idealized complex (valley) terrain is developed for the study. This study focuses on the clear-sky case where the surface effects are most significant.

The TIPMEX-86 data, obtained during the spring-summer transition into the East Asian monsoon season, are used to help validate the surface longwave radiation budget at two sites of varying elevation: Lasa (3650 m) and Naqu (4500 m). Based on the degree to which skin-temperature boundary conditions control the magnitude of infrared cooling, we define the concept of relative longwave heating and explain its influence on the vertical infrared cooling-rate profile. Relative longwave radiative heating at the higher-elevation Naqu site is found to be twice as large as that corresponding to the lower-elevation Lasa site located within a valley. Besides reducing the infrared cooling rates, it is shown that relative longwave heating extends the period of the day over which the plateau acts as a direct heat source to the atmosphere. Computational results from the infrared model help substantiate observational analyses that indicate surface longwave net radiation at the high-elevation site, on clear days, exceeds 300 W m−2; this is an order of magnitude greater than typical of sea-level oceanic conditions. As a result of the unique meteorological and surface conditions, total infrared flux convergence occurs within the deep planetary boundary layer (i.e., infrared heating of the cloud-free lower atmosphere) at the high-elevation site during the afternoon. An important characteristic of the daytime longwave heating process of the lower layers is how it turns off like a switch at approximately 1800 MST, transforming almost immediately to maximum cooling of the lower layers.

Atmospheric longwave cooling is significantly influenced by variations in the biophysical composition of the surface and the associated thermal diurnal cycle. It is estimated that natural variations of surface emissivity could modulate longwave cooling by up to 40%. The largest impact would occur at a time when the surface temperature is high and the relative longwave radiative heating of the lower atmosphere by the surface reaches its maximum value.

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Lei Shi
and
Eric A. Smith

Abstract

During the summer east Asian monsoon transition period in 1979, a meteorological field experiment entitled the Qinghai-Xizang Plateau Meteorological Experiment (QXPMEX-79) was conducted over the entire Tibetan Plateau. Data collected on and around the plateau during this period, in conjunction with a medium spectral-resolution infrared radiative transfer model, are used to gain an understanding of how elevation and surface biophysical factors, which are highly variable over the large-scale plateau domain, regulate the spatial distribution of clear-sky infrared cooling during the transition phase of the summer monsoon.

The spatial distribution of longwave cooling over the plateau is significantly influenced by variations in biophysical composition, topography, and elevation, the surface thermal diurnal cycle, and various climatological factors. An important factor is soil moisture. Bulk clear-sky longwave cooling rates are larger in the southeast sector of the plateau than in the north. This is because rainfall is greatest in the southeast, whereas the north is highly desertified and relative longwave radiative heating by the surface is greatest. Another important phenomenon is that the locale of a large-scale east-west-aligned spatial gradient in radiative cooling propagates northward with time. During the premonsoon period (May–June), the location of the strong spatial gradient is found in the southeastern margin of the plateau. Due to changes in surface and atmospheric conditions after the summer monsoon commences, the high gradient sector is shifted to the central Qinghai region. Furthermore, an overall decrease in longwave cooling takes place in the lower atmosphere immediately prior to the arrival of the active monsoon.

The magnitude of longwave cooling is significantly affected by skin-temperature boundary conditions at plateau altitudes. If skin-temperature discontinuities across the surface-atmosphere interface are neglected, bulk cooling rates will be in error up to 1°C day−1. The high surface skin temperatures, particularly in the afternoon, lead to significant relative longwave radiative heating in the lower atmosphere for which the impact in terms of vertical depth is shown to increase rather dramatically as a function of the elevation of the terrain. The significance of these results in the context of previous heat budget studies of the plateau suggest that the radiative heating term (QR ) used by previous investigators contains far too much longwave cooling, and thus in a classic formulation of the Yanai Q 1 balance equation, would lead to underestimation of sensible heating into the atmospheric column.

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Byung-Ju Sohn
and
Eric A. Smith

Abstract

Cloud–radiative forcing calculations based on Nimbus-7 radiation budget and cloudiness measurements reveal that cloud-induced longwave (LW) warming (cloud greenhouse influence) is dominant over the tropics, whereas cloud-induced shortwave (SW) cooling (cloud albedo influence) is dominant over mid- and high latitudes. The average SW cloud cooling taken over the area of the globe from 65°N to 65°S is −27.8 W m−2. This magnitude slightly overcomes LW cloud warming (−25.7 W m−2), resulting in a small net cooling effect of −2.1 W m−2 over 93% of the earth.

A 6-year zonally averaged mean cloudy- and clear-sky net radiation flux analysis shows that there are three distinct regimes in terms of net cloud warming or cooling, that is, warming in the tropics (between 20°N and 20°S) and in the high latitudes (poleward of 55°) and cooling in the extratropical latitudes between 20° and 55° in both hemispheres. These distributions reinforce the intensities of the Hadley and Ferrel meridional circulation cells. This stems from strong warming due to high-level clouds in the tropics and strong cooling due to mid- and low-level clouds at extratropical latitudes. The magnitude of the contribution by cloud forcing is found to be of the same order as eddy heat and momentum flux forcing to the maintenance of the mean meridional circulation.

Surface–atmosphere forcing obtained by differentiating the cloud-induced effects from the measured radiative fluxes indicates that an east–west coupled North Africa–western Pacific energy transport dipole is maintained mainly by low-latitude land–ocean contrasts associated with shortwave radiation but supported by cloud controls on tropical longwave radiation. This implies that interannual variations in the net radiation balance associated with these two regions can give rise to fluctuations of the basic dipole structure and thus fundamental changes in low-latitude climate.

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Song Yang
and
Eric A. Smith
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Song Yang
and
Eric A. Smith

Abstract

This study investigates the variability of convective and stratiform rainfall from 8 yr (1998–2005) of Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) Precipitation Radar (PR) and TRMM Microwave Imager (TMI) measurements, focusing on seasonal diurnal variability. The main scientific goals are 1) to understand the climatological variability of these two dominant forms of precipitation across the four cardinal seasons and over continents and oceans separately and 2) to understand how differences in convective and stratiform rainfall variations ultimately determine how the diurnal variability of the total rainfall is modulated into multiple modes.

There are distinct day–night differences for both convective and stratiform rainfall. Oceanic (continental) convective rainfall is up to 25% (50%) greater during nighttime (daytime) than daytime (nighttime). The seasonal variability of convective rainfall’s day–night difference is relatively small, while stratiform rainfall exhibits very apparent day–night variations with seasonal variability. There are consistent late evening diurnal peaks without obvious seasonal variations over ocean for convective, stratiform, and total rainfall. Over continents, convective and total rainfall exhibit consistent dominant afternoon peaks with little seasonal variations—but with late evening secondary peaks exhibiting seasonal variations. Stratiform rainfall over continents exhibits a consistent strong late evening peak and a weak afternoon peak, with the afternoon mode undergoing seasonal variability. Thus, the diurnal characteristics of stratiform rainfall appear to control the afternoon secondary maximum of oceanic rainfall and the late evening secondary peak of continental rainfall. Even at the seasonal–regional scale spatially or the interannual global scale temporally, the secondary mode can become very pronounced, but only on an intermittent basis. Overall, the results presented here demonstrate the importance of partitioning the total rainfall into convective and stratiform components and suggest that diurnal modes largely arise from distinct diurnal stratiform variations modulating convective variations.

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Byung-Ju Sohn
and
Eric A. Smith

Abstract

This study examines the impact of differential net radiative heating on two-dimensional energy transports within the atmosphere-ocean system and the role of clouds on this process. Nimbus-7 earth radiation budget data show basic energy surpluses over the tropical oceans and relative or absolute energy deficits over low-latitude continental regions. The two-dimensional mean energy transports, in response to zonal and meridional gradients in the net radiation field, exhibit an east-west coupled dipole structure in which the west Pacific acts as the major energy source and North Africa as the major energy sink. It is shown that the dipole is embedded in the secondary energy transports arising mainly from the differential heating between land and means in the tropics in which the tropical cast-west (zonal) transports are up to 30% of the tropical north-south (meridional) transports. Thus, any perturbations to this dipole on an interannual basis due to regionally induced fluctuations of the net radiation balance give rise to low-latitude energy transport variations. In turn, the tropical variations lead to extratropical responses through alterations of requirements on both zonal and meridional transports at all positions on the globe. Cloud-induced transports, obtained by differentiating the cloud-free portion from the total transport field, indicate that year-to-year cloud amount changes are contributing to fluctuations of the global climate system through these mechanisms.

Increased cloudiness increases zonal available potential energy, thus increasing the intensity of the north-south transports while slightly weakening the dipole intensity. It would thus appear that the basic role of cloudiness is to diminish the role of differential heating between continents and oceans and force the globe toward a more meridionally distributed energy imbalance. This implies the radiative feedback effects of clouds, regardless of factors determining cloud amount variability, reduce the radiative decoupling of land and ocean. This conclusion cannot be arrived at heuristically because it pertains to the specific optical properties of continental and oceanic cloud systems and additional factors governing cloud amount variability over the landmasses and oceans themselves.

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