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Classification of Precipitating Clouds in the Tropics Using 915-MHz Wind Profilers

Christopher R. WilliamsCooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES), University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado

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Warner L. EcklundCooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES), University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado

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Kenneth S. GageNOAA Aeronomy Laboratory, Boulder, Colorado

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Abstract

An algorithm has been developed that classifies precipitating clouds into either stratiform, mixed stratiform/convective, deep convective, or shallow convective clouds by analyzing the vertical structure of reflectivity, velocity, and spectral width derived from measurements made with the vertical beam of a 915-MHz Doppler wind profiler. The precipitating clouds classified as stratiform and convective clouds match the physical and radar properties deduced by Doppler weather radars in the GATE and EMEX programs. The mixed stratiform/convective cloud category is a hybrid regime containing a melting-layer signature associated with stratiform clouds yet is turbulent above the melting level similar to convective clouds. Shallow convective clouds have hydrometeors confined entirely below the melting level implying that warm rain processes are occurring exclusively. The algorithm is illustrated by classifying precipitating clouds from 10 months of observations at Manus Island (2°S, 147°E) in the western Pacific. The sensitivity of the algorithm to threshold criteria is investigated using the Manus Island data.

Abstract

An algorithm has been developed that classifies precipitating clouds into either stratiform, mixed stratiform/convective, deep convective, or shallow convective clouds by analyzing the vertical structure of reflectivity, velocity, and spectral width derived from measurements made with the vertical beam of a 915-MHz Doppler wind profiler. The precipitating clouds classified as stratiform and convective clouds match the physical and radar properties deduced by Doppler weather radars in the GATE and EMEX programs. The mixed stratiform/convective cloud category is a hybrid regime containing a melting-layer signature associated with stratiform clouds yet is turbulent above the melting level similar to convective clouds. Shallow convective clouds have hydrometeors confined entirely below the melting level implying that warm rain processes are occurring exclusively. The algorithm is illustrated by classifying precipitating clouds from 10 months of observations at Manus Island (2°S, 147°E) in the western Pacific. The sensitivity of the algorithm to threshold criteria is investigated using the Manus Island data.

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