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Robert F. Adler

Abstract

Certain aspects of the general circulations of the Northern and Southern Hemispheres are compared using atmospheric structure obtained from Nimbus 3 Satellite Infrared Spectrometer (SIRS) data. Comparisons between the hemispheres of zonal and eddy available potential energy (AZ and AE) and zonal and eddy kinetic energy (KZ and KE) indicate that the ratios of AZ to AE and KZ to KE are larger in the Southern Hemisphere.

The relative importance of standing and transient eddies in both hemispheres is investigated. The results show that standing eddies in the Southern Hemisphere contribute less to eddy available potential energy (AE) and eddy kinetic energy (KE) than in the Northern Hemisphere. The same type of inter-hemispheric distinction is true for the mid-latitude eddy heat flux. The distribution with latitude of the relative importance of standing and transient eddies is also studied.

Horizontal eddy heat fluxes in the upper troposphere of both hemispheres are examined and in mid-latitudes found to be approximately equal in magnitude when averaged over the summer and winter month. The Southern Hemisphere mid-latitude eddy heat flux is also shown to have significant longitudinal variations, apparently associated with the location of the southern continents.

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Robert F. Adler

Abstract

Atmospheric structure derived from satellite, multi-channel radiance data is used to calculate zonally- averaged vertical motions in the wintertime stratosphere of both hemispheres using a heat budget approach. The Northern Hemisphere calculations based on the satellite data are shown to compare favorably with a computation carried out with conventional data, and with results of previous studies. The mean Southern Hemisphere pattern for the month of July 1969 indicates a high-latitude cell with the axis of sinking motion at approximately 50°S, while the rising motion is centered at 70°S. Thus the antarctic stratosphere jet stream is associated with an indirect cell.

Two individual 10-day periods from July 1969 are examined to compare the mean meridional circulation and eddy heat flux patterns in the Southern Hemisphere during a minor midwinter warming and during a quiet period. Large eddy fluxes at 60°S and a strong indirect cell in the meridional circulation are associated with the minor warming. During the quiet period eddy fluxes at 60°S are relatively small and the mean meridional circulation appears to develop an additional cell in very high latitudes with sinking motion over the South Pole.

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Guojun Gu and Robert F. Adler

Abstract

In this study, the seasonal variations in surface rainfall and associated large-scale processes in the tropical eastern Atlantic and West African region are investigated. The 6-yr (1998–2003) high-quality Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) rainfall, sea surface temperature (SST), water vapor, and cloud liquid water observations are applied along with the NCEP–NCAR reanalysis wind components and a 4-yr (2000–2003) Quick Scatterometer (Quik SCAT) satellite-observed surface wind product.

Major mean rainfall over West Africa tends to be concentrated in two regions and is observed in two different seasons, manifesting an abrupt shift of the mean rainfall zone during June–July: (i) near the Gulf of Guinea (about 5°N), intense convection and rainfall are seen during April–June and roughly follow the seasonality of SST in the tropical eastern Atlantic, and (ii) along the latitudes of about 10°N over the interior of the West African continent, a second intense rain belt begins to develop in July and remains there during the later summer season. This belt coexists with a northward-moving African easterly jet (AEJ) and its accompanying horizontal and vertical shear zones, the appearance and intensification of an upper-tropospheric tropical easterly jet (TEJ), and a strong low-level westerly flow. Westward-propagating wave signals [i.e., African easterly waves (AEWs)] dominate the synoptic-scale variability during July–September, in contrast to the evident eastward-propagating wave signals during May–June.

The abrupt shift of the mean rainfall zone thus turns out to be a combination of two different physical processes: (i) evident seasonal cycles in the tropical eastern Atlantic Ocean, which modulate convection and rainfall near the Gulf of Guinea by means of SST thermal forcing and SST-related meridional gradient; and (ii) the interaction among the AEJ, TEJ, low-level westerly flow, moist convection, and AEWs during July–September, which modulates rainfall variability in the interior of West Africa, primarily within the ITCZ rain band. Evident seasonality in synoptic-scale wave signals is shown to be a good indication of this seasonal evolution.

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Guojun Gu and Robert F. Adler

Abstract

This study examines global precipitation changes/variations during 1901–2010 by using the long-record GPCC land precipitation analysis, the NOAA/Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites (CICS) reconstructed (RECONS) precipitation analysis, and the CMIP5 outputs. In particular, spatial features of long-term precipitation changes and trends and decadal/interdecadal precipitation variations are explored by focusing on the effects of various physical mechanisms such as the anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) and aerosol forcings and certain internal oscillations including the Pacific decadal variability (PDV) and Atlantic multidecadal oscillation (AMO).

Precipitation increases in the Northern Hemisphere (NH) mid- to high-latitude lands observed in GPCC can also be found in RECONS and model simulations. Over tropical/subtropical land areas, precipitation reductions generally appear in all products, but with large discrepancies on regional scales. Over ocean, consistent spatial structures of precipitation change also exist between RECONS and models. It is further found that these long-term changes/trends might be due to both anthropogenic GHG and aerosols. The aerosol effect estimated from CMIP5 historical simulations is then removed from the GPCC, RECONS, and AMIP simulations. These isolated GHG-related changes/trends have many similar spatial features when compared to the CMIP5 GHG-only simulations, especially in the zonal-mean context.

Both PDV and AMO have influence on spatial patterns of precipitation variations during the past century. In the NH middle to high latitudes, PDV and AMO have played an important role on interdecadal/multidecadal time scales. In several tropical/subtropical regions, their impacts may even become dominant for certain time spans including the recent past two decades. Therefore, these two internal mechanisms make the estimations of GHG and aerosol effects on precipitation on decadal/interdecadal time scales very challenging, especially on regional scales.

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Guojun Gu and Robert F. Adler

Abstract

Tropical (30°N–30°S) interdecadal precipitation changes and trends are explored for the satellite era using GPCP monthly analyses and CMIP5 outputs and focusing on precipitation intensity distributions represented by percentiles (Pct) and other parameters. Positive trends occur for the upper percentiles (Pct ≥ 70th), and become statistically significant for Pct ≥ 80th. Negative trends appear for the middle one-half percentiles (~20th–65th) and are statistically significant for the 20th–40th percentiles. As part of these trends there is a decadal shift around 1998, indicating the presence of an interdecadal [Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO)] signal. For the lower percentiles (Pct ≤ 10th), positive trends occur, although weakly. The AMIP-type simulations generally show similar trend results for their respective time periods.

Precipitation intensity changes are further examined using four precipitation categories based on the climatological percentiles: Wet (Pct ≥ 70th), Intermediate (70th > Pct ≥ 30th), Dry (30th > Pct ≥ 5th), and No Rain (5th > Pct ≥ 0th). Epoch differences of occurrence frequency between 1988–97 and 1998–2015 have spatial features generally reflecting the combined effect of the PDO and external forcings, specifically the anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG)-related warming based on comparisons with both AMIP and CMIP results. Furthermore, precipitation intensity over Wet zones shows much stronger changes than mean precipitation including a more prominent change around 1998 associated with the PDO phase shift. Trends also appear in the sizes of Intermediate and Dry zones, especially over ocean. However, changes in the sizes of Wet and No Rain zones are generally weak. AMIP simulations reproduce these changes relatively well. Comparisons with the CMIP5 historical experiments further confirm that the observed changes and trends are a combination of the effect of the PDO phase shift and the impact of anthropogenic GHG-related warming.

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Guojun Gu and Robert F. Adler

Abstract

The effects of ENSO and two large tropical volcanic eruptions (El Chichón, March 1982; Mt. Pinatubo, June 1991) are examined for the period of 1979–2008 using various satellite- and station-based observations of precipitation, temperature (surface and atmospheric), and tropospheric water vapor content. By focusing on the responses in the time series of tropical and global means over land, ocean, and land and ocean combined, the authors intend to provide an observational comparison of how these two phenomena, represented by Niño-3.4 and the tropical mean stratospheric aerosol optical thickness (τ), respectively, influence precipitation, temperature, and water vapor variations.

As discovered in past studies, strong same-sign ENSO signals appear in tropical and global mean temperature (surface and tropospheric) over both land and ocean. However, ENSO only has very weak impact on tropical and global mean (land + ocean) precipitation, though intense anomalies are readily seen in the time series of precipitation averaged over either land or ocean. In contrast, the two volcanoes decreased not only tropical and global mean surface and tropospheric temperature but also tropical and global mean (land + ocean) precipitation. The differences between the responses to ENSO and volcanic eruptions are thus further examined by means of lag-correlation analyses. The ENSO-related peak responses in oceanic precipitation and sea surface temperature (SST) have the same time lags with Niño-3.4, 2 (4) months for the tropical (global) means. Tropical and global mean tropospheric water vapor over ocean (and land) generally follows surface temperature. However, land precipitation responds to ENSO much faster than temperature, suggesting a certain time needed for surface energy adjustment there following ENSO-related circulation and precipitation anomalies. Weak ENSO signals in the tropical and global mean mid- to lower-tropospheric atmospheric (dry) static instability are further discovered, which tend to be consistent with weak ENSO responses in the tropical and global mean (land + ocean) precipitation. For volcanic eruptions, tropical and global mean precipitation over either ocean or land responds faster than temperature (surface and atmospheric) and tropospheric water vapor averaged over the same areas, suggesting that precipitation tends to be more sensitive to volcanic-related solar forcing. The volcanic-related precipitation variations are further shown to be related to the changes in the mid- to lower-tropospheric atmospheric (dry) instability.

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Robert F. Adler and Robert A. Mack

Abstract

Observational studies of thunderstorm cloud height-rainfall rate and cloud height-volume rainfall rate relations are reviewed with significant variations being noted among climatological regimes. Analysis of the Florida (summer) and Oklahoma (spring) relations are made using a one-dimensional cloud model to ascertain the important factors in determining the individual cloud-rain relations and the differences between the two regimes. In general, the observed relations are well simulated by the model-based calculations. The generally lower predicted rain rates in Oklahoma (as compared to Florida) result from lower precipitation efficiencies which are due to a combination of larger entrainment (related to larger vertical wind shear) and drier environment. The generally steeper slope of the Oklahoma rain rate height curves is shown to be due to a stronger variation in maximum vertical velocity with cloud top height, which, in turn, is related to the greater static stability in the range of cloud tops. The impact of the regime-to-regime variations on empirical rain estimation schemes based on satellite-observed cloud height or cloud temperature information is discussed and a rain estimation approach based on model-generated cloud-rain relations is outlined.

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Robert F. Adler and Robert A. Mack

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A Lagrangian model applicable to the overshooting region of thunderstorm tops is used to describe the temperature-height path taken by updraft core parcels as they penetrate above the tropopause, reach their maximum height and descend in the periphery of the convective tower. The model is run under a variety of ambient and in-cloud conditions in order to simulate certain temperature-height relationships observed in satellite observations.

Observations indicate that in the majority of observed storm tops, the satellite-observed cold point in the IR brightness temperature (TB) field is collocated with the highest point in the convective overshooting region and the TB-height relations are near adiabatic. The parcel model quantitatively reproduces this type of relationship for model runs where the mixing parameter is relatively small.

Another type of storm has a close-in, cold-warm TB couplet with a dimension of approximately 20–40 km and a V-shaped cold TB pattern. In some cases of these V-shaped storms, the cold point is clearly located upwind of the high point. Model runs have been made to reproduce a number of these salient features for these types of storms. With larger values of the mixing parameters (presumably related to larger shear), the model produces temperature-height relationships that are, of course, much closer to ambient than to adiabatic, as is observed in these cases. With the larger mixing parameter, the cold-high offset is also produced, for model runs having a relatively large initial vertical velocity and under conditions of a strong inversion. The amount of the cold-high offset is shown to be a direct function of the strength of the inversion.

The cause of the close-in warm point is also explored with the simple model. As has been shown in three-dimensional cloud model results, the warm point in the cold-warm couplet can be related to internal cloud subsidence on the downwind side in association with mixing with the environment. This effect is also reproduced in the parcel model with the occurrence of a warm point being related to conditions of an intense updraft and strong mixing. The model also points to parcels subsiding from their maximum height and crossing the ambient lapse rate from negative to positive buoyancy on the downwind side and then coming into equilibrium at a relatively high level above the tropopause on the downwind side. This effect may be related to the top of the downwind anvil cloud being elevated significantly above the equilibrium point or tropopause. Another interpretation of this model result may be related to the above-anvil cirrus noted by a few investigators.

The temperature-height distributions produced by the model in a Lagrangian framework are converted to the spatial domain by the assumption of steady state conditions and are compared to temperature-height cross sections determined from GOES IR and stereoscopic height fields. The locations of cold points, high points, warm points, and the magnitude of cold-high offsets compare favorably between the model and the satellite observations.

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Andrew J. Negri and Robert F. Adler

Abstract

This study examines the relationships between satellite infrared clouds and rainfall, and infrared-threshold visible clouds and rainfall. Clouds are defined by the outline of the 253 K isotherm. Cloud infrared area was highly correlated with rain area (ρ = 0.85) and with volume rainrate (ρ = 0.81). It was poorly correlated with mean cloud rainrate (ρ = −0.28). One-parameter models were as effective in explaining the variance of cloud volume rainrate as multiparameter methods, due to the high correlations between visible brightness, mean cloud temperature and cloud area. An exception was found for clouds >10 000 km2, where area and temperature were uncorrelated, and mean temperature was more effective in discriminating among classes of volume rain than was cloud area. Statistical separation of five- of six-volume rain classes was achieved with mean temperature; however, the probability of occurrence of the classes effectively reduced this to a four-class problem.

Due to the high correlation between visible brightness and infrared temperature, visible data provided largely redundant information. Using a mean cloud brightness threshold of 148 counts, rain/no-rain separation was effected with a POD, FAR, and CSI of 0.98, 0.13, and 0.86, respectively. An infrared threshold (mean temperature of 241 K) produced statistics of 0.88, 0.07 and 0.83, respectively for the POD, FAR and CSI. The standard deviation of visible counts (used as a measure of cloud structure) was poor in explaining the variance of rainrate, yielding no better than rain/no-rain separation.

Time series of the cloud evolution showed that rain volume fluctuations were better “mirrored” by cloud temperature fluctuations than by cloud area. Contrary examples could be found and inconsistency between days was noted. The apportionment of rain volume (assigning rainrates to areas) remained a difficult problem, with significant variability, both within clouds of the same size and between clouds of different size. The coldest 10% cloud area was found to contain 11%–23% of the total rain volume while the coldest 50% area contained 60%–70–. This is in contrast to the rain apportionment used in the Griffith-Woodley Technique.

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Robert F. Adler and Ida M. Hakkarinen

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Aircraft passive microwave observations at 18, 37, 92, and 183 GHz of light oceanic precipitation are studied in conjunction with visible and infrared observations and ground-based radar data. Microwave signatures for clear, cloudy, and precipitating conditions are defined, with results in general agreement with previous theoretical results. Emission signatures are evident at 18, 37, and 92 GHz with clouds and precipitation producing an increase in brightness temperature (T b) over that observed over the low-emissivity ocean background. Polarization differences at 18 and 37 GHz also decrease in precipitation areas to minima of 30 K at 18 GHZ and 15 K at 37 GHz. The 92-GHz T b shows a double-valued relationship, with an increase in cloudy and very lightly raining areas and a subsequent decrease for higher rain rates and deeper clouds where the ice scattering process becomes important. The 183-GHz observations display a distinct sensitivity to small amounts of ice.

Simple channel differences are shown to compare favorably to the rain field, including polarization differences at 18 and 37 GHz and frequency differences between 92 and 37 GHz and between 183 and 92 GHz.

The cases examined include both stratiform and convective structures, and the results indicate that this difference may be important in microwave T b-rain rate relationships. Some of the observed differences may be due to the presence or absence of a melting layer, observed as a radar “bright band.”

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