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E. B. Rodgers and R. F. Adler

Abstract

Data from the Nimbus-5 F-Electrically Scanning Microwave Radiometer (ESMR-5) have been used to calculate latent heat release (LHR) and other rainfall parameters for over 70 satelite observations of 21 tropical cyclones during 1973, 1974 and 1975 in the tropical North Pacific Ocean. The results indicate that the ESMR-5 measurements can be useful in determining the rainfall characteristics of these storms and appear to be potentially useful in monitoring as well as predicting their intensity. The ESMR-5 derived total tropical cyclone rainfall estimates agree favorably with previous estimates for both the disturbance and typhoon stages. The mean typhoon rainfall rate (1.9 mm h−1) is approximately twice that of disturbances (1.1 mm h−1).

Case studies suggest that tropical cyclone intensification is indicated by the increase in the ESMR-5 derived LHR, the increase in the relative contribution of the heavier rain rates (≥5 mm h−1) to the total storm rainfall, and the decrease in the radius of maximum rain rate from the cyclone center. It also appears evident from these case studies that by monitoring the trend of increasing LHR the first indication of tropical cyclone intensification may be obtained 1–2 days prior to the tropical cyclone reaching storm stage and often prior to the first reconnaissance aircraft observation. Further, the time of the maximum intensity of the tropical cyclone lags by 1–2 days the time of maximum LHR. The statistics of the western Pacific tropical cyclones confirm the case study results in that tropical cyclone intensity can be monitored from ESMR-5 derived rainfall parameters. As the mean tropical cyclone intensifies from disturbance to typhoon stage the average LHR increases steadily. The mean relative contribution of the heavier rate (≥5 mm−1) to the total storm rainfall increased from 0.24 at depression stage to 0.33 at storm stage and finally to 0.39 at typhoon stage. The radial distance of the maximum rain rate from the center decreases with intensification while the azimuthal distribution indicates a slight preference for maximum rain rate in the right half of the composite storm at all stages. The study also indicates that eastern Pacific hurricanes have less LHR, are more compact, and have less intense rainfall than western Pacific typhoons.

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Robert F. Adler and Edward B. Rodgers

Abstract

Data from the Nimbus 5 Electrically Scanning Microwave Radiometer (ESMR) are used to make calculations of the latent heat release (LHR) and the distribution of rainfall rate in a case study of a tropical cyclone as it grows from a tropical disturbance to a typhoon. The results indicate that the latent heat release characteristics of tropical cyclones can be determined from the microwave data and that such observations are potentially useful in the monitoring of such storms. The LHR (calculated over a circular area of 4° latitude radius) increases during the development and intensification of the storm from a magnitude of 2.7 × 1014 W (in the disturbance stage) to 8.8 × 1014 W (typhoon stage). The later value corresponds to a mean rainfall rate of 2.0 mm h−1. Even during the disturbance stage, the LHR increases significantly. It is also shown that the more intense the cyclone and the greater the LHR, the greater the percentage contribution of the larger rainfall rates to the LHR. In the disturbance stage the percentage contribution of rainfall rates ⩾ 6 mm h−1 is typically 8%; for the typhoon stage, the value is 38%. The distribution of rainfall rate as a function of radial distance from the center indicates that as the cyclone intensifies, the higher rainfall rates tend to concentrate toward the center of the circulation.

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Edward B. Rodgers, Robert F. Adler, and Harold F. Pierce

Abstract

The tropical cyclone rainfall climatological study performed for the North Pacific was extended to the North Atlantic. Similar to the North Pacific tropical cyclone study, mean monthly rainfall within 444 km of the center of the North Atlantic tropical cyclones (i.e., that reached storm stage and greater) was estimated from passive microwave satellite observations during an 11-yr period. These satellite-observed rainfall estimates were used to assess the impact of tropical cyclone rainfall in altering the geographical, seasonal, and interannual distribution of the North Atlantic total rainfall during June–November when tropical cyclones were most abundant. The main results from this study indicate 1) that tropical cyclones contribute, respectively, 4%, 3%, and 4% to the western, eastern, and entire North Atlantic; 2) similar to that observed in the North Pacific, the maximum in North Atlantic tropical cyclone rainfall is approximately 5°–10° poleward (depending on longitude) of the maximum nontropical cyclone rainfall; 3) tropical cyclones contribute regionally a maximum of 30% of the total rainfall northeast of Puerto Rico, within a region near 15°N, 55°W, and off the west coast of Africa; 4) there is no lag between the months with maximum tropical cyclone rainfall and nontropical cyclone rainfall in the western North Atlantic, whereas in the eastern North Atlantic, maximum tropical cyclone rainfall precedes maximum nontropical cyclone rainfall; 5) like the North Pacific, North Atlantic tropical cyclones of hurricane intensity generate the greatest amount of rainfall in the higher latitudes; and 6) warm El Niño–Southern Oscillation events inhibit tropical cyclone rainfall.

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Edward B. Rodgers, Robert F. Adler, and Harold F. Pierce

Abstract

Tropical cyclone monthly rainfall amounts are estimated from passive microwave satellite observations for an 11-yr period. These satellite-derived rainfall amounts are used to assess the impact of tropical cyclone rainfall in altering the geographical, seasonal, and interannual distribution of the North Pacific Ocean total rainfall during June–November when tropical cyclones are most important.

To estimate these tropical cyclone rainfall amounts, mean monthly rain rates are derived from passive microwave satellite observations within 444-km radius of the center of those North Pacific tropical cyclones that reached storm stage and greater. These rain-rate observations are converted to monthly rainfall amounts and then compared with those for nontropical cyclone systems.

The main results of this study indicate that 1) tropical cyclones contribute 7% of the rainfall to the entire domain of the North Pacific during the tropical cyclone season and 12%, 3%, and 4% when the study area is limited to, respectively, the western, central, and eastern third of the ocean; 2) the maximum tropical cyclone rainfall is poleward (5°–10° latitude depending on longitude) of the maximum nontropical cyclone rainfall; 3) tropical cyclones contribute a maximum of 30% northeast of the Philippine Islands and 40% off the lower Baja California coast; 4) in the western North Pacific, the tropical cyclone rainfall lags the total rainfall by approximately two months and shows seasonal latitudinal variation following the Intertropical Convergence Zone; and 5) in general, tropical cyclone rainfall is enhanced during the El Niño years by warm SSTs in the eastern North Pacific and by the monsoon trough in the western and central North Pacific.

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Thomas Stanley, Dalia B. Kirschbaum, George J. Huffman, and Robert F. Adler

Abstract

Long-term precipitation records are vital to many applications, especially the study of extreme events. The Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) has served this need, but TRMM’s successor mission, Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM), does not yet provide a long-term record. Quantile mapping, the conversion of values across paired empirical distributions, offers a simple, established means to approximate such long-term statistics but only within appropriately defined domains. This method was applied to a case study in Central America, demonstrating that quantile mapping between TRMM and GPM data maintains the performance of a real-time landslide model. Use of quantile mapping could bring the benefits of the latest satellite-based precipitation dataset to existing user communities, such as those for hazard assessment, crop forecasting, numerical weather prediction, and disease tracking.

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Ali Behrangi, Alex Gardner, John T. Reager, Joshua B. Fisher, Daqing Yang, George J. Huffman, and Robert F. Adler

Abstract

Ten years of terrestrial water storage anomalies from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) were used to estimate high-latitude snowfall accumulation using a mass balance approach. The estimates were used to assess two common gauge-undercatch correction factors (CFs): the Legates climatology (CF-L) utilized in the Global Precipitation Climatology Project (GPCP) and the Fuchs dynamic correction model (CF-F) used in the Global Precipitation Climatology Centre (GPCC) monitoring product. The two CFs can be different by more than 50%. CF-L tended to exceed CF-F over northern Asia and Eurasia, while the opposite was observed over North America. Estimates of snowfall from GPCP, GPCC-L (GPCC corrected by CF-L), and GPCC-F (GPCC corrected by CF-F) were 62%, 64%, and 46% more than GPCC over northern Asia and Eurasia. The GRACE-based estimate (49% more than GPCC) was the closest to GPCC-F. We found that as near-surface air temperature decreased, the products increasingly underestimated the GRACE-based snowfall accumulation. Overall, GRACE showed that CFs are effective in improving GPCC estimates. Furthermore, our case studies and overall statistics suggest that CF-F is likely more effective than CF-L in most of the high-latitude regions studied here. GPCP showed generally better skill than GPCC-L, which might be related to the use of satellite data or additional quality controls on gauge inputs to GPCP. This study suggests that GPCP can be improved if it employs CF-L instead of CF-F to correct for gauge undercatch. However, this implementation requires further studies, region-specific analysis, and operational considerations.

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C. David Whiteman, Manuela Lehner, Sebastian W. Hoch, Bianca Adler, Norbert Kalthoff, Roland Vogt, Iris Feigenwinter, Thomas Haiden, and Matthew O. G. Hills

Abstract

The successive stages of nocturnal atmospheric structure inside a small isolated basin are investigated when a katabatically driven flow on an adjacent tilted plain advects cold air over the basin rim. Data came from Arizona’s Meteor Crater during intensive observing period 4 of the Second Meteor Crater Experiment (METCRAX II) when a mesoscale flow above the plain was superimposed on the katabatic flow leading to a flow acceleration and then deceleration over the course of the night. Following an overflow-initiation phase, the basin atmosphere over the upwind inner sidewall progressed through three stages as the katabatic flow accelerated: 1) a cold-air-intrusion phase in which the overflowing cold air accelerated down the upwind inner sidewall, 2) a bifurcation phase in which the katabatic stable layer lifted over the rim included both a nonnegatively buoyant upper layer that flowed horizontally over the basin and a negatively buoyant lower layer (the cold-air intrusion) that continued on the slope below to create a hydraulic jump at the foot of the sidewall, and 3) a final warm-air-intrusion phase in which shear instability in the upper overflowing layer produced a lee wave that brought warm air from the elevated residual layer downward into the basin. Strong winds during the third phase penetrated to the basin floor, stirring the preexisting, intensely stable, cold pool. Later in the night a wind direction change aloft decelerated the katabatic wind and the atmosphere progressed back through the bifurcation and cold-air-intrusion phases. A conceptual diagram illustrates the first four evolutionary phases.

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F. R. Robertson, M. G. Bosilovich, J. B. Roberts, R. H. Reichle, R. Adler, L. Ricciardulli, W. Berg, and G. J. Huffman

Abstract

Motivated by the question of whether recent interannual to decadal climate variability and a possible “climate shift” may have affected the global water balance, we examine precipitation minus evaporation (P – E) variability integrated over the global oceans and global land for the period 1979–2010 from three points of view—remotely sensed retrievals and syntheses over the oceans, reanalysis vertically integrated moisture flux convergence (VMFC) over land, and land surface models (LSMs) forced with observations-based precipitation, radiation, and near-surface meteorology.

Over land, reanalysis VMFC and P − evapotranspiration (ET) from observationally forced LSMs agree on interannual variations (e.g., El Niño/La Niña events); however, reanalyses exhibit upward VMFC trends 3–4 times larger than P − ET trends of the LSMs. Experiments with other reanalyses using reduced observations show that upward VMFC trends in the full reanalyses are due largely to observing system changes interacting with assimilation model physics. The much smaller P − ET trend in the LSMs appears due to changes in frequency and amplitude of warm events after the 1997/98 El Niño, a result consistent with coolness in the eastern tropical Pacific sea surface temperature (SST) after that date.

When integrated over the global oceans, E and especially P variations show consistent signals of El Niño/La Niña events. However, at scales longer than interannual there is considerable uncertainty especially in E. This results from differences among datasets in near-surface atmospheric specific humidity and wind speed used in bulk aerodynamic retrievals. The P variations, all relying substantially on passive microwave retrievals over ocean, also have uncertainties in decadal variability, but to a smaller degree.

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George J. Huffman, David T. Bolvin, Eric J. Nelkin, David B. Wolff, Robert F. Adler, Guojun Gu, Yang Hong, Kenneth P. Bowman, and Erich F. Stocker

Abstract

The Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) Multisatellite Precipitation Analysis (TMPA) provides a calibration-based sequential scheme for combining precipitation estimates from multiple satellites, as well as gauge analyses where feasible, at fine scales (0.25° × 0.25° and 3 hourly). TMPA is available both after and in real time, based on calibration by the TRMM Combined Instrument and TRMM Microwave Imager precipitation products, respectively. Only the after-real-time product incorporates gauge data at the present. The dataset covers the latitude band 50°N–S for the period from 1998 to the delayed present. Early validation results are as follows: the TMPA provides reasonable performance at monthly scales, although it is shown to have precipitation rate–dependent low bias due to lack of sensitivity to low precipitation rates over ocean in one of the input products [based on Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit-B (AMSU-B)]. At finer scales the TMPA is successful at approximately reproducing the surface observation–based histogram of precipitation, as well as reasonably detecting large daily events. The TMPA, however, has lower skill in correctly specifying moderate and light event amounts on short time intervals, in common with other finescale estimators. Examples are provided of a flood event and diurnal cycle determination.

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Dalia B. Kirschbaum, George J. Huffman, Robert F. Adler, Scott Braun, Kevin Garrett, Erin Jones, Amy McNally, Gail Skofronick-Jackson, Erich Stocker, Huan Wu, and Benjamin F. Zaitchik

Abstract

Precipitation is the fundamental source of freshwater in the water cycle. It is critical for everyone, from subsistence farmers in Africa to weather forecasters around the world, to know when, where, and how much rain and snow is falling. The Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Core Observatory spacecraft, launched in February 2014, has the most advanced instruments to measure precipitation from space and, together with other satellite information, provides high-quality merged data on rain and snow worldwide every 30 min. Data from GPM and the predecessor Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) have been fundamental to a broad range of applications and end-user groups and are among the most widely downloaded Earth science data products across NASA. End-user applications have rapidly become an integral component in translating satellite data into actionable information and knowledge used to inform policy and enhance decision-making at local to global scales. In this article, we present NASA precipitation data, capabilities, and opportunities from the perspective of end users. We outline some key examples of how TRMM and GPM data are being applied across a broad range of sectors, including numerical weather prediction, disaster modeling, agricultural monitoring, and public health research. This work provides a discussion of some of the current needs of the community as well as future plans to better support end-user communities across the globe to utilize this data for their own applications.

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