The Evolution of Convective Storms from Their Footprints on the Sea as Viewed by Synthetic Aperture Radar from Space

View More View Less
© Get Permissions
Full access

SEASAT synthetic aperture radar (SAR) echoes from the sea have previously been shown to be the result of rain and winds produced by convective storms; rain damps the surface waves and causes echo-free holes, while the diverging winds associated with the downdraft generate waves and associated echoes surrounding the holes. Gust fronts are also evident. Such a snapshot from 8 July 1978 has been examined in conjunction with ground-based radar. This leads to the conclusion that the SAR storm footprints resulted from storm processes that occurred up to an hour or more prior to the snapshot. A sequence of events is discerned from the SAR imagery in which new cell growth is triggered in between the converging outflows of two preexisting cells. In turn, the new cell generates a mini–squall line along its expanding gust front. While such phenomena are well known over land, the spaceborne SAR now allows important inferences to be made about the nature and frequency of convective storms over the oceans. The storm effects on the sea have significant implications for spaceborne wind scatterometry and rainfall measurements. Some of the findings herein remain speculative because of the great distance to the Miami weather radar—the only source of corroborative data.

+ NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland.

**Hurricane Research Division, NOAA Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, Miami, Florida.

Corresponding author address: David Atlas, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Code 910.2, Greenbelt, MD 20771.

*Distinguished Visiting Scientist

SEASAT synthetic aperture radar (SAR) echoes from the sea have previously been shown to be the result of rain and winds produced by convective storms; rain damps the surface waves and causes echo-free holes, while the diverging winds associated with the downdraft generate waves and associated echoes surrounding the holes. Gust fronts are also evident. Such a snapshot from 8 July 1978 has been examined in conjunction with ground-based radar. This leads to the conclusion that the SAR storm footprints resulted from storm processes that occurred up to an hour or more prior to the snapshot. A sequence of events is discerned from the SAR imagery in which new cell growth is triggered in between the converging outflows of two preexisting cells. In turn, the new cell generates a mini–squall line along its expanding gust front. While such phenomena are well known over land, the spaceborne SAR now allows important inferences to be made about the nature and frequency of convective storms over the oceans. The storm effects on the sea have significant implications for spaceborne wind scatterometry and rainfall measurements. Some of the findings herein remain speculative because of the great distance to the Miami weather radar—the only source of corroborative data.

+ NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland.

**Hurricane Research Division, NOAA Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, Miami, Florida.

Corresponding author address: David Atlas, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Code 910.2, Greenbelt, MD 20771.

*Distinguished Visiting Scientist

Save