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Munehisa K. Yamamoto, Fumie A. Furuzawa, Atsushi Higuchi, and Kenji Nakamura


Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) data during June–August 1998–2003 are used to investigate diurnal variations of rain and cloud systems over the tropics and midlatitudes. The peak time of the coldest minimum brightness temperature derived from the Visible and Infrared Scanner (VIRS) and the maximum rain rate derived from the Precipitation Radar (PR) and the TRMM Microwave Imager (TMI) are compared. Time distributions are generally consistent with previous studies. However, it is found that systematic shifts in peak time relative to each sensor appeared over land, notably over western North America, the Tibetan Plateau, and oceanic regions such as the Gulf of Mexico. The peak time shift among PR, TMI, and VIRS is a few hours.

The relationships among the amplitude of diurnal variation, convective frequency, storm height, and rain amount are further investigated and compared to the systematic peak time shifts. The regions where the systematic shift appears correspond to large amplitude of diurnal variation, high convective frequency, and high storm height. Over land and over ocean near the coast, the relationships are rather clear, but not over open ocean.

The sensors likely detect different stages in the evolution of convective precipitation, which would explain the time shift. The PR directly detects near-surface rain. The TMI observes deep convection and solid hydrometeors, sensing heavy rain during the mature stage. VIRS detects deep convective clouds in mature and decaying stages. The shift in peak time particularly between PR (TMI) and VIRS varies by region.

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