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Luiz Augusto T. Machado and Henri Laurent

Abstract

The relationships between the initial area expansion rate of tropical convective systems and their total life duration are analyzed during the period of the Wet Season Amazon Mesoscale Campaign/Large-Scale Biosphere–Atmosphere (WETAMC/LBA) experiment over tropical South America, using an objective tracking of convective systems during their life cycle from infrared Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) images. The results show that it is possible to estimate the probable lifetime of a convective system, within certain error bars, considering only its initial area expansion. This result shows that the initial area expansion could be used as a predictor of the life cycle of convective systems. The area expansion is also a good indicator of convective activity such as the diurnal cycle of convection. Over the southwest Amazon, the maximum area expansion occurs close to the time of maximum precipitation and about 4 h before the maximum cold cloud fraction at the same threshold (235 K).

Also, the hypothesis that the area expansion, and hence the convective activity, impacts the high-level wind divergence has been investigated using satellite wind observations. It is found that the wind divergence fields derived are able to describe the large-scale patterns but are not able to capture the small-scale features. The diurnal cycle of the high-level wind divergence generally shows a flat response over tropical South America, although a coherent but not significant signal is observed over the WETAMC/LBA area. It is shown that the area of the cloud shield of convective systems varies not only in association with the upper-level wind divergence but also with the condensation–evaporation process. The increase of area in this initial stage is mainly due to the condensation process. During the ensuing mature stage, the upper-air wind divergence also contributes to the expansion.

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Ariane Frassoni, Dayana Castilho, Michel Rixen, Enver Ramirez, João Gerd Z. de Mattos, Paulo Kubota, Alan James Peixoto Calheiros, Kevin A. Reed, Maria Assunção F. da Silva Dias, Pedro L. da Silva Dias, Haroldo Fraga de Campos Velho, Stephan R. de Roode, Francisco Doblas-Reyes, Denis Eiras, Michael Ek, Silvio N. Figueroa, Richard Forbes, Saulo R. Freitas, Georg A. Grell, Dirceu L. Herdies, Peter H. Lauritzen, Luiz Augusto T. Machado, Antonio O. Manzi, Guilherme Martins, Gilvan S. Oliveira, Nilton E. Rosário, Domingo C. Sales, Nils Wedi, and Bárbara Yamada
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Stephen W. Nesbitt, Paola V. Salio, Eldo Ávila, Phillip Bitzer, Lawrence Carey, V. Chandrasekar, Wiebke Deierling, Francina Dominguez, Maria Eugenia Dillon, C. Marcelo Garcia, David Gochis, Steven Goodman, Deanna A. Hence, Karen A. Kosiba, Matthew R. Kumjian, Timothy Lang, Lorena Medina Luna, James Marquis, Robert Marshall, Lynn A. McMurdie, Ernani Lima Nascimento, Kristen L. Rasmussen, Rita Roberts, Angela K. Rowe, Juan José Ruiz, Eliah F.M.T. São Sabbas, A. Celeste Saulo, Russ S. Schumacher, Yanina Garcia Skabar, Luiz Augusto Toledo Machado, Robert J. Trapp, Adam Varble, James Wilson, Joshua Wurman, Edward J. Zipser, Ivan Arias, Hernán Bechis, and Maxwell A. Grover

Abstract

This article provides an overview of the experimental design, execution, education and public outreach, data collection, and initial scientific results from the Remote sensing of Electrification, Lightning, And Mesoscale/microscale Processes with Adaptive Ground Observations (RELAMPAGO) field campaign. RELAMPAGO was a major field campaign conducted in Córdoba and Mendoza provinces in Argentina, and western Rio Grande do Sul State in Brazil in 2018-2019 that involved more than 200 scientists and students from the US, Argentina, and Brazil. This campaign was motivated by the physical processes and societal impacts of deep convection that frequently initiates in this region, often along the complex terrain of the Sierras de Córdoba and Andes, and often grows rapidly upscale into dangerous storms that impact society. Observed storms during the experiment produced copious hail, intense flash flooding, extreme lightning flash rates and other unusual lightning phenomena, but few tornadoes. The 5 distinct scientific foci of RELAMPAGO: convection initiation, severe weather, upscale growth, hydrometeorology, and lightning and electrification are described, as are the deployment strategies to observe physical processes relevant to these foci. The campaign’s international cooperation, forecasting efforts, and mission planning strategies enabled a successful data collection effort. In addition, the legacy of RELAMPAGO in South America, including extensive multi-national education, public outreach, and social media data-gathering associated with the campaign, is summarized.

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