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Jairo M. Valdivia, Danny E. Scipión, Marco Milla, and Yamina Silva

Abstract

Agriculture is one of the main economic activities in the Peruvian Andes; rainwater alone irrigates more than 80% of the fields used for agriculture purposes. However, the cloud and rain generation mechanisms in the Andes still remain mostly unknown. In early 2014, the Instituto Geofísico del Perú (IGP) decided to intensify studies in the central Andes to better understand cloud microphysics; the Atmospheric Microphysics And Radiation Laboratory officially started operations in 2015 at IGP’s Huancayo Observatory. In this work, a Ka-band cloud profiler [cloud and precipitation profiler (MIRA-35c)], a UHF wind profiler [Clear-Air and Rainfall Estimation (CLAIRE)], and a VHF wind profiler [Boundary Layer and Tropospheric Radar (BLTR)] are used to estimate rainfall rate at different conditions. The height dependence of the drop size diameter versus the terminal velocity, obtained by the radars, in the central Andes (3350 m MSL) was evaluated. The estimates of rainfall rate are validated to ground measurements through a disdrometer [second-generation Particle, Size, and Velocity (PARSIVEL2)] and two rain gauges. The biases in the cumulative rainfall totals for the PARSIVEL2, MIRA-35c, and CLAIRE were 18%, 23%, and −32%, respectively, and their respective absolute biases were 19%, 36%, and 63%. These results suggest that a real-time calibration of the radars, MIRA-35c and CLAIRE, is necessary for better estimation of precipitation at the ground. They also show that the correction of the raindrop terminal fall velocity, obtained by separating the vertical wind velocity (BLTR), used in the estimation the raindrop diameter is not sufficient, especially in convective conditions.

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Juan Sulca, Mathias Vuille, Yamina Silva, and Ken Takahashi

ABSTRACT

Extreme precipitation events in the Peruvian Andes have significant socioeconomic impacts, yet their atmospheric dynamics are poorly understood. Here austral summer (December–March) wet and dry spells and their continental- and large-scale teleconnections are analyzed using reanalysis, gridded, and in situ precipitation data. Dry and wet spells in the Peruvian Andes show a pervasive dipole pattern with precipitation anomalies of the opposite sign over northeastern Brazil. Composite anomalies of various atmospheric fields during extreme precipitation events indicate that this dipole is related to large-scale adjustments in the upper-tropospheric Bolivian high–Nordeste low system, which in turn are modulated by northward-propagating extratropical Rossby wave trains. At upper- and midtropospheric levels, westerly wind anomalies over the Peruvian Andes suppress moisture flux from the Amazon during dry events, while wet events are characterized by opposite conditions. Yet, while easterly wind anomalies appear to be a prerequisite for heavy precipitation events in the region, they are not a sufficient forcing, as dry days can still occur during such periods. Dry spells in the Peruvian Andes appear to be linked to weakened convective activity over the western tropical Pacific, consistent with the previously documented El Niño influence over the region. Extreme dry and wet spells in northeastern Brazil only show a weak link to precipitation anomalies of the opposite sign over Peru but are strongly coupled with changes in the position and strength of the Nordeste low and the South Atlantic convergence zone.

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