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Daniel J. Cecil

Abstract

Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) Microwave Imager and precipitation radar measurements are examined for strong convective systems. Storms having similar values of minimum 37-GHz polarization-corrected temperature (PCT) are grouped together, and their vertical profiles of maximum radar reflectivity are composited. Lower 37-GHz PCT corresponds to stronger radar profiles (high reflectivity through a deep layer), but characteristic profiles for a given 37-GHz PCT are different for deep tropical ocean, deep tropical land, subtropical ocean, and subtropical land regions. Tropical oceanic storms have a sharper decrease of reflectivity just above the freezing level than storms from other regions with the same brightness temperature. Storms from subtropical land regions have the slowest decrease of reflectivity with height and the greatest mixed-phase-layer ice water content (IWC). Linear fits of 37-GHz PCT versus IWC for each region are used to scale the brightness temperatures. Counts of storms with these scaled brightness temperatures below certain thresholds suggest that not as many of the strongest storms occur in central Africa as in subtropical parts of South America, the United States, and central Asia.

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Daniel J. Cecil

Abstract

The Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite has been used to infer distributions of intense thunderstorms. Besides the lightning measurements from TRMM, the radar reflectivities and passive microwave brightness temperatures have been used as proxies for convective vigor. This is based on large graupel or hail lofted by strong updrafts being the cause of high–radar reflectivity values aloft and extremely low brightness temperatures. This paper seeks to empirically confirm that extremely low brightness temperatures are often accompanied by large hail at the surface. The three frequencies examined (85, 37, and 19 GHz) all show an increasing likelihood of hail reports with decreasing brightness temperature. Quantification is limited by the sparsity of hail reports. Hail reports are common when brightness temperatures are below 70 K at 85 GHz, 180 K at 37 GHz, or 230 K at 19 GHz.

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Daniel J. Cecil and Themis Chronis

Abstract

Coefficients are derived for computing the polarization-corrected temperature (PCT) for 10-, 19-, 37- and 89-GHz (and similar) frequencies, with applicability to satellites in the Global Precipitation Measurement mission constellation and their predecessors. PCTs for 10- and 19-GHz frequencies have been nonexistent or seldom used in the past; developing those is the main goal of this study. For 37 and 89 GHz, other formulations of PCT have already become well established. We consider those frequencies here in order to test whether the large sample sizes that are readily available now would point to different formulations of PCT. The purpose of the PCT is to reduce the effects of surface emissivity differences in a scene and draw attention to ice scattering signals related to precipitation. In particular, our intention is to develop a PCT formula that minimizes the differences between land and water surfaces, so that signatures resulting from deep convection are not easily confused with water surfaces. The new formulations of PCT for 10- and 19-GHz measurements hold promise for identifying and investigating intense convection. Four examples are shown from relevant cases. The PCT for each frequency is effective at drawing attention to the most intense convection, and removing ambiguous signals that are related to underlying land or water surfaces. For 37 and 89 GHz, the older formulations of PCT from the literature yield generally similar values as ours, with the differences mainly being a few kelvins over oceans. An optimal formulation of PCT can depend on location and season; results are presented here separated by latitude and month.

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Daniel J. Cecil and Edward J. Zipser

Abstract

Part I of this two-part paper treats Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) radar, passive microwave, and lightning observations in hurricanes individually. This paper (Part II) examines relationships between these parameters (and implications of the relationships). Quantitative relationships between lightning occurrence and 85-GHz brightness temperature, 37-GHz brightness temperature, and radar reflectivity in the mixed phase region are established separately for hurricane eyewall regions, inner rainband regions, and outer rainband regions; other tropical oceanic regions; and tropical continental regions. When any of the brightness temperature or radar parameters are held constant as controls, lightning is more frequent in hurricane outer rainbands than elsewhere over tropical oceans, and more frequent over continents than even in the outer rainbands. Reflectivity profiles associated with specific brightness temperatures are presented, demonstrating a link between high-altitude ice phase precipitation and 85-GHz scattering and a link between lower-altitude precipitation and 37-GHz scattering. Based on the combination of radar, passive microwave, and lightning observations, it is proposed that supercooled cloud water occurs preferentially in outer rainbands compared to other tropical oceanic precipitation. The suspected microphysical differences produce only subtle differences in the remote sensing parameters other than lightning.

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Daniel J. Cecil and Edward J. Zipser

Abstract

A key component in the maintenance and intensification of tropical cyclones is the transverse circulation, which transports mass and momentum and provides latent heat release via inner core convective updrafts. This study examines these updrafts indirectly, using satellite-borne observations of the scattering of upwelling microwave radiation by precipitation-sized ice particles and satellite-borne observations of lightning. The observations are then compared to tropical cyclone intensity (defined here as maximum sustained wind speed) and the resulting relationships are assessed. Substantial updrafts produce large ice particles aloft, which in turn produce microwave ice-scattering signatures. The large ice, together with supercooled liquid water also generated by substantial updrafts, is a necessary ingredient in charge separation, which leads to lightning. Various parameters derived from the inner core ice-scattering signature are computed for regions encircling hurricanes and typhoons, and observations of lightning activity or inactivity are analyzed.

High correlations with future tropical cyclone intensity result from the ice-scattering signature parameters most closely associated with the areal extent of at least moderate precipitation rates. As expected, the relationship reveals increasing intensity with increasing ice-scattering signature. Indicators of more intense convection yield less information concerning tropical cyclone intensity. Correlations tend to be of the same sign for both present cyclone intensity at the time of the satellite overpass and subsequent intensity change. Correlations are higher for future cyclone intensity than for either of these. The lightning observations are much more limited than the microwave observations, because the short amount of time in which lightning can be detected may not adequately represent a particular storm’s electrical activity. The inner core lightning observations show no clear relationship to tropical cyclone intensification. However, the lightning observations do suggest an increased likelihood of inner core lightning in weak tropical storms and strong hurricanes/typhoons. In the examination of case studies, the paradoxical situation of much greater lightning frequency in rainbands than in eyewalls is noted.

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Sarah D. Bang and Daniel J. Cecil

Abstract

Large hail is a primary contributor to damages and loss around the world, in both agriculture and infrastructure. The sensitivity of passive microwave radiometer measurements to scattering by hail led to the development of proxies for severe hail, most of which use brightness temperature thresholds from 37-GHz and higher-frequency microwave channels on board weather satellites in low-Earth orbit. Using 16+ years of data from the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM; 36°S–36°N), we pair TRMM brightness temperature–derived precipitation features with surface hail reports in the United States to train a hail retrieval on passive microwave data from the 10-, 19-, 37-, and 85-GHz channels based on probability curves fit to the microwave data. We then apply this hail retrieval to features in the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) domain (from 69°S to 69°N) to develop a nearly global passive microwave–based climatology of hail. The extended domain of the GPM satellite into higher latitudes requires filtering out features that we believe are over icy and snowy surface regimes. We also normalize brightness temperature depression by tropopause height in an effort to account for differences in storm depth between the tropics and higher latitudes. Our results show the highest hail frequencies in the region of northern Argentina through Paraguay, Uruguay, and southern Brazil; the central United States; and a swath of Africa just south of the Sahel. Smaller hot spots include Pakistan, eastern India, and Bangladesh. A notable difference between these results and many prior satellite-based studies is that central Africa, while still active in our climatology, does not rival the aforementioned regions in retrieved hailstorm frequency.

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Sarah D. Bang and Daniel J. Cecil

Abstract

Several studies in the literature have developed approaches to diagnose hail storms from satellite-borne passive microwave imagery and build nearly global climatologies of hail. This paper uses spaceborne Ku-band radar measurements from the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission Dual-Frequency Precipitation Radar (DPR) to validate several passive microwave approaches. We assess the retrievals on the basis of how tightly they constrain the radar reflectivity at −20°C and how this measured radar reflectivity aloft varies geographically. The algorithm that combines minimum 19-GHz polarization corrected temperature (PCT) with a 37-GHz PCT depression normalized by tropopause height constrains the radar reflectivity most tightly and gives the least appearance of regional biases. A retrieval that is based on a 19-GHz PCT threshold of 261K also produces tightly clustered profiles of radar reflectivity, with little regional bias. An approach using regionally adjusted minimum 37-GHz PCT performs relatively well, but our results indicate it may overestimate hail in some subtropical and midlatitude regions. A threshold applied to the minimum 37-GHz PCT (≤230 K), without any scaling by region or probability of hail, overestimates hail in the tropics and underestimates beyond the tropics. For all retrieval approaches, storms identified as having hail tended to have radar reflectivity profiles that are consistent with general expectations for hailstorms (reflectivity > 50 dBZ below the 0°C level, and > 40 dBZ extending far above 0°C). Profiles from oceanic regions tended to have more rapidly decreasing reflectivity with height than profiles from other regions. Subtropical, high-latitude, and high-terrain land profiles had the slowest decreases of reflectivity with height.

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Kenneth D. Leppert II and Daniel J. Cecil

Abstract

Passive microwave brightness temperatures (BTs) collected above severe thunderstorms using the Advanced Microwave Precipitation Radiometer and Conical Scanning Millimeter-Wave Imaging Radiometer during the Midlatitude Continental Convective Clouds Experiment are compared with a hydrometeor identification applied to dual-polarimetric Weather Surveillance Radar-1988 Doppler radar data collected at Vance Air Force Base, Oklahoma (KVNX). The goal of this work is to determine the signatures of various hydrometeor species in terms of BTs measured at frequencies used by the Global Precipitation Measurement mission Microwave Imager. Results indicate that hail is associated with an ice-scattering signature at all frequencies examined, including 10.7 GHz. However, it appears that frequencies ≤ 37.1 GHz are most useful for identifying hail. Low-level (below 2.5 km) hail becomes probable for a BT below 240 K at 19.4 GHz, 170 K at 37.1 GHz, 90 K at 85.5 GHz, 80 K at 89.0 GHz, 100 K at 165.5 GHz, and 100 K at 183.3 ± 7 GHz. Graupel may be distinguished from hail and profiles without any hydrometeor species by its strong scattering signature at higher frequencies (e.g., 165.5 GHz) and its relative lack of scattering at frequencies ≤ 19.4 GHz. There is a clearer distinction between profiles that contain liquid precipitation and profiles without any hydrometeors when the liquid is associated above with hail and/or graupel (i.e., a hydrometeor category with a strong scattering signature) than when the liquid is associated with smaller ice. Near-surface precipitation is much more likely for a 19.4-GHz BT < 250 K, 37.1-GHz BT < 240 K, 89.0-GHz BT < 220 K, and 165.5-GHz BT < 140 K.

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Daniel J. Cecil and Sayak K. Biswas

Abstract

Surface wind speed retrievals have been generated and evaluated using Hurricane Imaging Radiometer (HIRAD) measurements from flights over Hurricane Joaquin, Hurricane Patricia, Hurricane Marty, and the remnants of Tropical Storm Erika—all in 2015. Procedures are described here for producing maps of brightness temperature, which are subsequently used for retrievals of surface wind speed and rain rate across a ~50-km-wide swath for each flight leg. An iterative retrieval approach has been developed to take advantage of HIRAD’s measurement characteristics. Validation of the wind speed retrievals has been conducted, using 636 dropsondes released from the same WB-57 high-altitude aircraft carrying HIRAD during the Tropical Cyclone Intensity (TCI) experiment. The HIRAD wind speed retrievals exhibit very small bias relative to the dropsondes, for winds of tropical storm strength (17.5 m s−1) or greater. HIRAD has reduced sensitivity to winds weaker than tropical storm strength and a small positive bias (~2 m s−1). Two flights with predominantly weak winds according to the dropsondes have abnormally large errors from HIRAD and large positive biases. From the other flights, the root-mean-square differences between HIRAD and the dropsonde winds are 4.1 m s−1 (33%) for winds below tropical storm strength, 5.6 m s−1 (25%) for tropical storm–strength winds, and 6.3 m s−1 (16%) for hurricane-strength winds. The mean absolute differences for those three categories are 3.2 m s−1 (25%), 4.3 m s−1 (19%), and 4.8 m s−1 (12%), respectively, with a bias near zero for winds of tropical storm and hurricane strength.

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Kenneth D. Leppert II and Daniel J. Cecil

Abstract

Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Microwave Imager (GMI) brightness temperatures (BTs) were simulated over a case of severe convection in Texas using ground-based S-band radar and the Atmospheric Radiative Transfer Simulator. The median particle diameter D o of a normalized gamma distribution was varied for different hydrometeor types under the constraint of fixed radar reflectivity to better understand how simulated GMI BTs respond to changing particle size distribution parameters. In addition, simulations were conducted to assess how low BTs may be expected to reach from realistic (although extreme) particle sizes or concentrations. Results indicate that increasing D o for cloud ice, graupel, and/or hail leads to warmer BTs (i.e., weaker scattering signature) at various frequencies. Channels at 166.0 and 183.31 ± 7 GHz are most sensitive to changing D o of cloud ice, channels at ≥89.0 GHz are most sensitive to changing D o of graupel, and at 18.7 and 36.5 GHz they show the greatest sensitivity to hail D o. Simulations contrasting BTs above high concentrations of small (0.5-cm diameter) and low concentrations of large (20-cm diameter) hailstones distributed evenly across a satellite pixel showed much greater scattering using the higher concentration of smaller hailstones with BTs as low as ~110, ~33, ~22, ~46, ~100, and ~106 K at 10.65, 18.7, 36.5, 89.0, 166.0, and 183.31 ± 7 GHz, respectively. These results suggest that number concentration is more important for scattering than particle size given a constant S-band radar reflectivity.

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