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Marlon Maranan, Andreas H. Fink, Peter Knippertz, Leonard K. Amekudzi, Winifred A. Atiah, and Martin Stengel

Abstract

Using a two-year dataset (2016–17) from 17 one-minute rain gauges located in the moist forest region of Ghana, the performance of Integrated Multisatellite Retrievals for GPM, version 6b (IMERG), is evaluated based on a subdaily time scale, down to the level of the underlying passive microwave (PMW) and infrared (IR) sources. Additionally, the spaceborne cloud product Cloud Property Dataset Using SEVIRI, edition 2 (CLAAS-2), available every 15 min, is used to link IMERG rainfall to cloud-top properties. Several important issues are identified: 1) IMERG’s proneness to low-intensity false alarms, accounting for more than a fifth of total rainfall; 2) IMERG’s overestimation of the rainfall amount from frequently occurring weak convective events, while that of relatively rare but strong mesoscale convective systems is underestimated, resulting in an error compensation; and 3) a decrease of skill during the little dry season in July and August, known to feature enhanced low-level cloudiness and warm rain. These findings are related to 1) a general oversensitivity for clouds with low ice and liquid water path and a particular oversensitivity for low cloud optical thickness, a problem which is slightly reduced for direct PMW overpasses; 2) a pronounced negative bias for high rain intensities, strongest when IR data are included; and 3) a large fraction of missed events linked with rainfall out of warm clouds, which are inherently misinterpreted by IMERG and its sources. This paper emphasizes the potential of validating spaceborne rainfall products with high-resolution rain gauges on a subdaily time scale, particularly for the understudied West African region.

Open access
Marlon Maranan, Andreas H. Fink, Peter Knippertz, Sabastine D. Francis, Aristide B. Akpo, Gbenga Jegede, and Charles Yorke

Abstract

An intense mesoscale convective system (MCS) in the Guinea Coast region caused one of the highest ever recorded daily rainfall amounts at the Nigerian station Abakaliki on 12 June 2016 (223.5 mm). This paper provides a detailed analysis of the meso- and synoptic-scale factors leading to this event, including some so far undocumented dynamical aspects for southern West Africa. The MCS formed over the Darfur Mountains due to diurnal heating, then moved southwestward along a mid- to lower-tropospheric trough, and developed into a classical West African squall line in a highly sheared environment with pronounced midlevel dryness. Strong moisture flux convergence over Nigeria prior to the MCS passage led to extreme values in precipitable water and was caused by the formation of a local, short-lived heat low. According to the pressure tendency equation, the latter resulted from tropospheric warming due to MCS-forced subsidence as well as surface insolation in the resulting almost cloud-free atmosphere. In this extremely moist environment, the MCS strongly intensified and initiated the formation of a lower-tropospheric vortex, which resulted in a deceleration of the MCS and high rainfall accumulation at Abakaliki. Following the vorticity equation, the vortex formation was realized through strong low-level vortex stretching and upper-level vertical vorticity advection related to the MCS, which became “dynamically large” compared to the Rossby radius of deformation. Eventually, moisture supply and lifting associated with the vortex are suggested to promote the longevity of the MCS during the subsequent westward movement along the Guinea Coast.

Open access