• Austin, P., and A. Bemis, 1950: A quantitative study of the “bright band” in radar precipitation echoes. J. Meteor.,7, 145–151.

  • Diaz, H., and N. Graham, 1996: Recent changes in tropical freezing heights and the role of sea surface temperature. Nature,383, 152–155.

  • Houze, R. A., Jr., 1997: Stratiform precipitation in regions of convection: A meteorological paradox? Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc.,78, 2179–2196.

  • Kalnay, E., and Coauthors, 1996: The NCEP/NCAR 40-Year Reanalysis Project. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc.,77, 437–471.

  • Kummerow, C., W. Barnes, T. Kozu, J. Shuie, and J. Simpson, 1998:The Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) sensor package. J. Atmos. Oceanic Technol.,15, 809–817.

  • Leary, C. A., and R. A. Houze, 1979: Melting and evaporation of hydrometeors in precipitation from the anvil clouds of deep tropical convection. J. Atmos. Sci.,36, 669–679.

  • Shin, D.-B., G. R. North, and K. P. Bowman, 2000: A summary of reflectivity profiles from the first year of TRMM radar data. J. Climate,13, 4072–4086.

  • Shin, K.-S., P. E. Riba, and G. R. North, 1990: Estimation of area-averaged rainfall over tropical oceans from microwave radiometry: A single channel approach. J. Appl. Meteor.,29, 1031–1042.

  • Simpson, J., R. F. Adler, and G. R. North, 1988: A proposed tropical rainfall measuring mission. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc.,69, 278–295.

  • Stewart, R., J. Marwitz, J. Pace, and R. Carbone, 1984: Characteristics through the melting layer of stratiform clouds. J. Atmos. Sci.,41, 3227–3237.

  • Tesmer, J. R., and T. T. Wilheit, 1998: An improved microwave radiative transfer model for tropical oceanic precipitation. J. Atmos. Sci.,55, 1674–1688.

  • Wilheit, T. T., 1986: Some comments on passive microwave measurement of rain. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc.,67, 1226–1232.

  • ——, and A. T. C. Chang, 1977: A satellite technique for quantitatively mapping rainfall rates over the oceans. J. Appl. Meteor.,16, 551–560.

  • View in gallery

    Schematic cross section through tropical convection showing the altitude of the 0°C isotherm and the melting layer (bright band) in the stratiform rain region (after Leary and Houze 1979)

  • View in gallery

    Instantaneous Z0 fields for 0000 UTC on 1 Jan and 1 Jul 1998. Contours are drawn at 0, 1000, 2000, 3000, 4000, 4500, 5000, 5500, and 6000 m. Regions with missing data (T < 0°C through the entire column) are not contoured

  • View in gallery

    Monthly mean Z0 fields for Jan and Jul 1998. Each monthly mean map represents the mean of ∼120 instantaneous Z0 fields. To show more detail in the Tropics, where Z0 is smooth, contours are drawn at 0, 1000, 2000, 3000, 4000, 4500, 4750, 5000, 5250, 5500, and 6000 m

  • View in gallery

    Intramonth standard deviation s0 for Jan and Jul 1998. Contours are drawn at 0, 25, 50, 75, 100, 200, 300, 400, and 500 m. Darker areas have less variability

  • View in gallery

    Climatological monthly mean 〈Z0〉 fields for Jan, Apr, Jul, and Oct 1979–98. Contours are drawn at 0, 1000, 2000, 3000, 4000, 4500, 4750, 5000, 5250, 5500, and 6000 m

  • View in gallery

    Interannual standard deviation S0 for Jan and Jul 1979–98. Contours are drawn at 0, 25, 50, 75, 100, 200, 300, 400, and 500 m. Darker areas have less variability

  • View in gallery

    Climatological zonal mean cross sections of 〈Z0〉 for each month. The zonal mean of S0 is plotted as error bars. Missing data cause gaps outside the Tropics

  • View in gallery

    Monthly mean anomalies Z0 for 1998. Contours are drawn every 200 m, from −800 to +800 m. Negative contours are dashed and positive contours are solid. The zero contour line is thicker for emphasis

  • View in gallery

    The 1998 mean difference [H0] − [Z0]. Regions of missing data are unshaded (white)

  • View in gallery

    Zonal-mean cross sections of the climatological values [〈Z0〉] (solid line), the values for each month of 1998 [Z0] (dashed line), and the TRMM retrievals H0 (dotted line), also for 1998

  • View in gallery

    Zonal-mean cross sections of H0 − 〈Z0〉 for each month of 1998

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 222 222 25
PDF Downloads 95 95 23

Comparison of Freezing-Level Altitudes from the NCEP Reanalysis with TRMM Precipitation Radar Brightband Data

View More View Less
  • 1 Department of Atmospheric Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas
© Get Permissions
Full access

Abstract

A global climatology of the altitude of the freezing level (0°C isotherm) is computed using 20 yr of 6-hourly output from the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) reanalysis system. Mean statistics discussed include monthly means and climatological monthly means. Variance statistics include the standard deviation of the 6-hourly values with the month and the standard deviation of the monthly means. In the Tropics, freezing levels are highest (∼5000 m) and both intramonth and interannual variability is lowest. Freezing levels are lower and variability is higher in the subtropics and midlatitudes. In 1998 there are unusually high freezing levels in the eastern Pacific Ocean relative to the 20-yr climatology, consistent with elevated sea surface temperatures associated with the 1997–98 El Niño. Freezing levels return to near-climatological values during the last half of 1998. The individual monthly means for 1998 and the 20-yr climatology are compared with monthly means of the altitude of the bright band (melting layer) retrieved from Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) precipitation radar data. Differences between TRMM and NCEP typically range from about −300 to −900 m. Differences are somewhat larger over landmasses and in zonal bands centered on ±20° latitude.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Kenneth P. Bowman, Department of Atmospheric Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843-3150.

Email: k-bowman@tamu.edu

Abstract

A global climatology of the altitude of the freezing level (0°C isotherm) is computed using 20 yr of 6-hourly output from the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) reanalysis system. Mean statistics discussed include monthly means and climatological monthly means. Variance statistics include the standard deviation of the 6-hourly values with the month and the standard deviation of the monthly means. In the Tropics, freezing levels are highest (∼5000 m) and both intramonth and interannual variability is lowest. Freezing levels are lower and variability is higher in the subtropics and midlatitudes. In 1998 there are unusually high freezing levels in the eastern Pacific Ocean relative to the 20-yr climatology, consistent with elevated sea surface temperatures associated with the 1997–98 El Niño. Freezing levels return to near-climatological values during the last half of 1998. The individual monthly means for 1998 and the 20-yr climatology are compared with monthly means of the altitude of the bright band (melting layer) retrieved from Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) precipitation radar data. Differences between TRMM and NCEP typically range from about −300 to −900 m. Differences are somewhat larger over landmasses and in zonal bands centered on ±20° latitude.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Kenneth P. Bowman, Department of Atmospheric Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843-3150.

Email: k-bowman@tamu.edu

1. Introduction

The Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) is a joint endeavor by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Japanese National Space Development Agency to measure precipitation in the Tropics, especially over the oceans where data are sparsest (Simpson et al. 1988). The TRMM satellite carries five instruments, two of which are directly related to this research: the TRMM precipitation radar (PR) and the TRMM Microwave Imager (TMI; Kummerow et al. 1998). The mission was designed so that combine data from multiple instruments could be used to produce better estimates of physical parameters than could be created by a single sensor alone (Wilheit 1986; Tesmer and Wilheit 1998).

Passive microwave instruments like the TMI are likely to be one of the primary methods for estimating global precipitation for many years to come. Because of the differing radiative properties of rain and frozen precipitation, passive microwave retrieval algorithms generally require the altitude of the atmospheric freezing level as input (Wilheit and Chang 1977; Shin et al. 1990; Tesmer and Wilheit 1998). Because melting precipitation in stratiform rain produces a distinct signal in radar data (the “bright band”), the PR can be used to make direct observations of the melting layer height. This information can be used to improve the coincident TMI rainfall retrievals.

Radar meteorologists use the term “melting layer” to describe the region (up to several hundred meters thick) just below the 0°C isotherm where the bright band appears. Conversely, much of the microwave rainfall retrieval research uses the aviation term “freezing level” for the location of the 0°C isotherm. To avoid confusion, this study will denote the altitude of the 0°C isotherm with the symbol Z0, while the center of the bright band (the level of maximum radar reflectivity) will be referred to as H0 (Fig. 1). According to Houze (1997) the bright band occurs exclusively in stratiform precipitation and is typically found in stratiform regions associated with convective cells. Frozen hydrometeors falling through the melting level create the bright band feature in PR data. Melting does not occur instantaneously, due to the snowflake aggregates melting from the outside in (Austin and Bemis 1950; Leary and Houze 1979). The altitude difference between H0 and Z0 has been shown to vary substantially, depending on atmospheric conditions and geographical location. Brightband and freezing-level heights presented in Austin and Bermis (1950) from observations made in Cambridge, Massachusetts, had a mean brightband altitude of 3.3 km, while the mean difference (H0Z0) was −300 m. Stewart et al. (1984) found the bright band to be about 300 m lower than the freezing level in stratiform precipitation in a maritime-type system in California. In studying five tropical thunderstorm cases during the Global Atmospheric Research Program (GARP) Atlantic Tropical Experiment (GATE), Leary and Houze (1979) found a mean H0 of 4.5 km, and a difference ranging from −500 to −900 m. Thus, the identification of H0 in radar data is an indirect measure, with some difference expected due to the melting time, of the altitude of Z0.

In order to have H0 estimates for parts of the TMI swath not coincident with the PR, and for passive microwave instruments on other platforms, Shin et al. (2000, hereafter SNB) produced a climatology of PR profiles and brightband altitudes for all PR nadir profiles that contain a distinct bright band. SNB examined 13 months of PR data from January 1998 to January 1999.

In order to evaluate global patterns of brightband altitudes and verify the relationship between brightband altitude and temperature, this study compares the TRMM melting-layer altitude estimates of Shin et al. with the altitude of the 0°C isotherm in the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) reanalysis dataset. Because the NCEP reanalysis does not use any TRMM data, the NCEP temperature profiles can be used as an independent, consistency check on the TRMM reflectivity profiles. Conversely, the TRMM radar has high vertical resolution, and the brightband altitude is essentially an absolute measurement. That is, it depends primarily on timing accuracy within the radar and relative (not absolute) reflectivity measurements. Thus, the TRMM brightband altitudes can provide a cross-check of NCEP temperature measurements over large regions of the tropical oceans where temperature is not measured directly. It is important to remember, however, that Z0 and H0 are not the same physical quantity. In addition to the difference between Z0 and H0 due to the time required for frozen precipitation particles to melt while falling, the PR melting-layer altitudes are local measurements within a single PR field of view, while the NCEP freezing-level altitude is an average over a 2.5° × 2.5° longitude–latitude box. If the TRMM data can be shown to correspond closely to the NCEP temperature analyses, then the much longer record of NCEP data can be used to estimate certain climate statistics, such as interannual variability of the brightband altitude. This study provides a cross-validation of the TRMM precipitation profiles and the NCEP global temperature analysis, and a look at interannual variability in the tropical temperature field.

2. Data and methods

a. NCEP freezing-level data

NCEP reanalysis data are used to calculate the freezing-level climatology presented in this study. We use the 20-yr period from 1979 to 1998. The reanalysis methods and data are described in Kalnay et al. (1996). The data are archived every 6 h on a 144 × 73 (2.5° × 2.5°) latitude–longitude grid, with 17 pressure levels in the vertical (Δp ∼ 100 kPa in the region of interest).

Here Z0 is determined for each 6-h snapshot by reverse interpolation of the temperature profile at each horizontal grid point to find the geopotential height of the 0°C isotherm. Both temperature and geopotential height are classed as “A” variables (most influenced by observations; Kalnay et al. 1996). The algorithm checks for zero crossings in the temperature profile between 1000 and 200 hPa. If a single zero crossing exists, its altitude is taken as the freezing level. Two additional special cases need to be considered: no zero crossings (T < 0°C throughout the entire profile) and multiple zero crossings due temperature inversions. In the case where T < 0°C throughout the column, the freezing level is flagged as missing. In the case of multiple zero crossings, those locations are flagged and only the lowest Z0 value is stored. Locations with multiple Z0 occurrences account for less than 1% of the profiles overall, with no occurrences of multiple Z0’s within 10° of the equator. The largest number of multiple Z0’s is found in the high latitudes (around 60°) where they occur about 4% of the time.

The mean, variance, and standard deviation are calculated for each month from the 6-hourly values. Monthly means are indicated by overbars, for example, Z0. The intramonth variance υ0 is calculated as the mean-squared deviation of the 6-hourly values from the monthly mean
i1520-0442-13-23-4137-e1
where
i1520-0442-13-23-4137-e2
The standard deviation is
i1520-0442-13-23-4137-e3
Climatological monthly means and standard deviations are computed from the monthly means. The climatological monthly mean 〈Z0〉 is the mean of the 20 monthly means for each calendar month. The climatological variance V0 is given by
i1520-0442-13-23-4137-e4
where
i1520-0442-13-23-4137-e5
and the standard deviation is
i1520-0442-13-23-4137-e6

For direct comparisons with TRMM the NCEP Z0 data are averaged over the same 10° × 10° boxes as the TRMM data (see below). Additionally, zonal means are indicated by square brackets, for example, [Z0] is the zonal mean of the monthly mean. To avoid biased means, a mean is treated as missing if any of the values used to compute the mean are missing.

b. TRMM precipitation radar data

The melting-layer altitude data consist of values retrieved from TSDIS level-1 PR reflectivity data. To determine H0, the retrieval algorithm uses only the nadir ray from each scan. This strategy was chosen for two reasons: the nadir ray looks straight down on precipitation targets, eliminating angled views through the sides of storms, and the nadir ray has a “mirror” reflectivity image that can be used to improve the retrievals. Due to strong surface reflectivity signals, data below 1.5-km altitude are excluded from the algorithm. All available H0 estimates for each month are averaged within 10° × 10° latitude–longitude boxes between 35°S and 35°N. Details of the methods and results can be found in SNB.

3. Results

a. Instantaneous values

Two sample maps of Z0 are shown in Fig. 2 for opposite seasons (1 January and 1 July 1998). While the patterns are largely zonal, gradients in the Northern Hemisphere (NH) winter are generally stronger off the east coasts of the continents. Gradients in the eastern ocean basins are weaker. Between 15°S and 15°N the pattern is flat and roughly zonally symmetric. The absence of isopleths over the NH continents indicates that below-freezing temperatures exist throughout the column at the analysis time.

In July the NH continents are warmer, and freezing levels are well above the surface. The highest values occur within a closed 5500-m feature over India and the Himalaya. Gradients in the Southern Hemisphere (SH) are somewhat stronger in the winter than in summer, especially over Australia and the Indian Ocean.

b. Monthly means

Two sample maps of Z0 are shown in Fig. 3 for opposite seasons (January and July 1998). As expected, the monthly means are smoother and more zonally symmetric than the instantaneous maps. In the Tropics the Z0 field is flat and approximately symmetric about the equator with typical Z0 values of about 5000 m. Subtropical gradients are clearly greater in the winter hemisphere. In July there is a prominent region of high Z0 from the eastern Mediterranean Sea across the Indian subcontinent and the Himalaya into Southeast Asia.

c. Intramonth standard deviation

The intramonth standard deviation s0 is shown in Fig. 4 for January and July 1998. The pattern is generally the reverse of the monthly means, with lowest values in the Tropics and largest values in midlatitudes. In the Tropics s0 is generally less than 200 m. This increases from 400 to 500 m across a narrow zone located between 20° and 30° latitude. Somewhat greater variability is found over the NH continents during summer.

d. Climatological monthly means

Figure 5 shows the climatological monthly mean freezing-level altitude 〈Z0〉 for the middle month of each season (January, April, July, and October). The maps are all generally similar. Freezing-level heights in the Tropics are nearly uniform between about 4500 and 5000 m. There is a weak minimum at the equator in the western Pacific. The subtropical gradients are generally larger in the winter hemisphere. The highest heights are found over southern Asia during the NH summer.

e. Interannual variability of monthly means

The standard deviation of the monthly mean S0 is shown in Fig. 6 for January and July. As with the 6-hourly standard deviations (Fig. 4), the variability is generally lower in the Tropics (75–100 m) and larger in the subtropics and midlatitudes (200–400 m).

f. Zonal means

Climatological monthly mean zonal mean cross sections are shown in Fig. 7 for four months. The field is generally flat in the Tropics and variability is small. A slight minimum on the SH side of the equator is apparent. The transition to lower heights and greater variability occurs between 20° and 30° latitude.

g. Anomalies for 1998

The deviations of the monthly means for 1998 from the climatological monthly means, Z0, are shown in Fig. 8 for selected months. There are substantial positive anomalies (i.e., values greater than the climatological values) in the eastern Pacific from January to April (including months not shown) that largely disappear in June (see the July and October maps). These anomalies are large in comparison to the standard deviation of the monthly means (Fig. 6) indicating that early 1998 was atypical by comparison to the 20-yr climatology. Assuming a tropical lapse rate on the order of 5 K km−1, the freezing-level anomalies are consistent with changes in the surface temperature of 2–3 K, which is representative of the magnitude of the surface warming in the eastern Pacific during the 1997–98 El Niño. Subtropical anomalies are also apparent, but they do not persist from one month to the next. The zonal-mean anomalies for 1998 are discussed below.

h. TRMM–NCEP comparison

Differences between the Z0 (NCEP) and H0 (TRMM) data are shown in Fig. 9. The NCEP data have been area-averaged onto the same grid as the TRMM data. Due to considerable variability from month to month, the result shown is the average of all 12 months of 1998. Also, due to the relatively low resolution of the grid and the presence of missing data, the map is presented using grayscale intensities rather than contours. The regions of missing data (unshaded areas), which are most obvious off the west coasts of continents in the subtropics, are due either to a complete absence of TRMM precipitation retrievals in that region (possibly due to sampling), or to the absence of well-defined bright bands in whatever precipitation was observed by TRMM. In the Tropics Z0 is never lower than H0. In the individual monthly means, midlatitude values of H0 are occasionally higher than Z0; these events are most likely due to sampling error, as the NCEP values are the average of all 6-hourly times within each month, while TRMM can only measure H0 during precipitation events. In the annual mean H0 is always higher than Z0.

Average differences in most locations are in the range from −100 to −700 m. There is some tendency for differences to be larger over the continents. This is most obvious over Africa. The reasons for this difference are not clear. The other notable features are two relatively narrow bands of larger differences centered at ±20° latitude. These can be seen more clearly in a comparison of the zonal means. This difference could be due to differences in the sampling patterns of the two datasets. Because the TRMM can retrieve H0 only when precipitation is present, it may bias the results toward cooler temperature regimes. Additionally, the presence of the convection itself may modify the local temperature profile, which would not be captured by the coarse-resolution NCEP analysis.

Figure 10 shows the zonal means of NCEP and TRMM monthly means for 1998 ([Z0] and [H0]) and of the NCEP 20-yr climatology ([〈Z0〉]). Both [H0] and [Z0] decrease during the year, consistent with the results in SNB. During the first half of the year [Z0] is well above the climatology ([〈Z0〉]), but by the last quarter of the year, [Z0] has returned to climatological values. The average difference between [H0] and [Z0] is around −600 m, while the range of the mean zonal difference is from about −200 to −1000 m. The minimum difference between [H0] and [Z0] occurs in the SH from February to May, when differences south of the equator are almost always within −300 m. The largest differences occur in the winter hemisphere, where gaps on the order of −800 to −1000 m occur around ±20°.

Figure 11 shows [H0] − [Z0] for each month in 1998. Early in the year, the difference is between −300 and −900 m. Near the equator the differences are smaller early in the year than they are later. The largest differences occur around ±20° latitude, primarily in the winter hemisphere, as was indicated in Fig. 9. Both Z0 and H0 decreased during 1998, but time series plots (not shown) did not reveal any significant trends in H0Z0 through the year.

4. Discussion and conclusions

In this study a climatology of the altitude of the freezing level (0°C isotherm) in the NCEP global reanalysis (Z0) is computed and compared with the altitude of the bright band observed by the TRMM precipitation radar (H0). NCEP freezing levels are computed from 20 yr of 6-hourly assimilated temperature and geopotential height fields on a global 2.5° × 2.5° latitude–longitude grid. The TRMM PR dataset was developed by SNB and consists of the monthly mean of H0 retrievals for 1998 area-averaged over 10° × 10° longitude–latitude boxes between ±35° latitude. For direct comparison of the two datasets, the NCEP data are area averaged onto the same 10° × 10° grid as the PR data. In order to study the structure and variability of Z0, the following statistics are computed: monthly means (Z0), climatological monthly means (〈Z0〉), monthly anomalies (Z0 − 〈Z0〉), intramonth standard deviations of the instantaneous Z0 values (s0), and standard deviations of the monthly means (S0).

The instantaneous Z0 field has a complex appearance, related to the structure of the temperature field, which is closely tied to the weather. Averaging over time yields smoother fields for Z0 and 〈Z0〉. The Z0 and 〈Z0〉 analyses (Figs. 3, 5, and 7) reveal that Z0 is highest in the Tropics (∼4900 m), with a relatively flat, symmetric distribution around the equator. The magnitude of Z0 decreases rapidly poleward of 25°N or 25°S. The s0 and S0 analyses (Figs. 4 and 6) show that the lowest variability (∼75–100 m) occurs in the Tropics. Variability increases poleward, peaking in midlatitudes at about 400 m.

Zonal means [Z0] of the 1979–98 climatology exhibit a flat distribution of Z0 in the Tropics. Values decrease rapidly in the subtropics, with most rapid change occurring across the midlatitudes. Lowest values are found in higher latitudes, as expected. The zonal s0 error bars indicate lower variability around the equator, with increasing variability toward the poles, independent of season or hemisphere.

The 1998 monthly anomalies (Figs. 8 and 10) are almost exclusively positive, indicating that 1998 is warmer than the 20-yr climatology. During the first half of 1998, large, persistent, positive anomalies are present in the eastern tropical Pacific. The anomalies are larger than the standard deviation of the 20 yr of monthly means. As the year progresses, the anomalies gradually diminish. The magnitude of the anomalies is consistent with the observed sea surface temperature anomalies associated with the 1997–98 El Niño. Substantial anomalies are also seen in midlatitudes, but they are not persistent from one month to the next. On a global scale, positive Z0 anomalies are linked to increasing planetary temperatures. This is consistent with Diaz and Graham (1996), who found a strong link between observed changes in freezing-level heights, the long-term (decadal scale) increase in tropical sea surface temperatures, and enhancement of the tropical hydrological cycle.

Estimates of H0 from the TRMM PR data (SNB) are compared with the 20-yr NCEP climatology and the 1998 monthly data. In the difference maps, missing data substantially hamper the analysis. Missing data in the Tropics are generally due to the absence of TRMM retrievals of H0. This can result from an absence of precipitation, TRMM sampling that misses precipitation, or the absence of well-defined bright bands in the TRMM profiles. Missing data in midlatitudes can also be due to the presence of below 0°C temperatures throughout the vertical column. Since the PR is dependent on the presence of rain to gather data, H0 is biased toward “rainy” conditions.

The 1998 mean-difference (Fig. 9) map is noisy but shows that the difference between H0 and Z0 is nearly always positive. Differences appear to be larger over the continents and in two zonal bands at ±20° latitude. The differences found here are similar to those from previous studies of tropical precipitation, but larger than what is typically seen in midlatitudes. For example, the values found here are larger than those in Austin and Bemis (1950) and Stewart et al. (1984). Austin and Bemis (1950) found a mean difference between the altitude of the 0°C isotherm and the bright band of about −300 m in various types of precipitation in Massachusetts, while Stewart et al. (1984) noted a difference of about −300 m in stratiform rain in California. The differences found in this research, however, are similar to the values in Leary and Houze (1979), who found a difference of −500 to −900 m in GATE convection. Generally, values range from a minimum mean difference over the oceans of about −300 m to a maximum mean, difference of up to around −900 m over continental areas and in the latitude bands at 20°N and 20°S. In the Tropics, the mean difference between H0 and Z0 is on the order of −600 m, with variability depending on season and geography.

In the zonal-mean difference comparisons (Figs. 10 and 11) the similarity in shape of the two curves, [Z0] and [H0], is seen. Both [Z0] and [H0] decrease through the year, with [Z0] returning to climatological values from the positive anomalies present in the first part of 1998. The changes in [Z0] and [H0] are likely due to the waning of the strong El Niño of 1997–98. This event raised sea surface temperatures over the Pacific Ocean significantly in the first half of the year, while the ensuing La Niña dramatically reduced SSTs in the eastern Pacific in the second half of the year.

It appears that the procedure developed by SNB for estimating the “freezing level” via the melting-layer height is reasonable; it compares well to the NCEP freezing-level climatology and the monthly mean data. Because of the differences in the emission and scattering properties of rain and frozen precipitation, these datasets should be useful for developing microwave precipitation retrieval algorithms. Because the TRMM PR H0 data currently span only 13 months, the NCEP data are useful for estimating the interannual variability from the 20-yr climatology. As a result of the 1997–98 El Niño, the first year of TRMM data is certainly unusual from a climatic perspective.

Acknowledgments

The authors wish to acknowledge Grant NAG5-4753 from the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission project office of NASA. TRMM data were provided by the EOS Distributed Active Archive Center at Goddard Space Flight Center. The NCEP reanalysis data were obtained from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Climate Diagnostics Center.

REFERENCES

  • Austin, P., and A. Bemis, 1950: A quantitative study of the “bright band” in radar precipitation echoes. J. Meteor.,7, 145–151.

  • Diaz, H., and N. Graham, 1996: Recent changes in tropical freezing heights and the role of sea surface temperature. Nature,383, 152–155.

  • Houze, R. A., Jr., 1997: Stratiform precipitation in regions of convection: A meteorological paradox? Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc.,78, 2179–2196.

  • Kalnay, E., and Coauthors, 1996: The NCEP/NCAR 40-Year Reanalysis Project. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc.,77, 437–471.

  • Kummerow, C., W. Barnes, T. Kozu, J. Shuie, and J. Simpson, 1998:The Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) sensor package. J. Atmos. Oceanic Technol.,15, 809–817.

  • Leary, C. A., and R. A. Houze, 1979: Melting and evaporation of hydrometeors in precipitation from the anvil clouds of deep tropical convection. J. Atmos. Sci.,36, 669–679.

  • Shin, D.-B., G. R. North, and K. P. Bowman, 2000: A summary of reflectivity profiles from the first year of TRMM radar data. J. Climate,13, 4072–4086.

  • Shin, K.-S., P. E. Riba, and G. R. North, 1990: Estimation of area-averaged rainfall over tropical oceans from microwave radiometry: A single channel approach. J. Appl. Meteor.,29, 1031–1042.

  • Simpson, J., R. F. Adler, and G. R. North, 1988: A proposed tropical rainfall measuring mission. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc.,69, 278–295.

  • Stewart, R., J. Marwitz, J. Pace, and R. Carbone, 1984: Characteristics through the melting layer of stratiform clouds. J. Atmos. Sci.,41, 3227–3237.

  • Tesmer, J. R., and T. T. Wilheit, 1998: An improved microwave radiative transfer model for tropical oceanic precipitation. J. Atmos. Sci.,55, 1674–1688.

  • Wilheit, T. T., 1986: Some comments on passive microwave measurement of rain. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc.,67, 1226–1232.

  • ——, and A. T. C. Chang, 1977: A satellite technique for quantitatively mapping rainfall rates over the oceans. J. Appl. Meteor.,16, 551–560.

Fig. 1.
Fig. 1.

Schematic cross section through tropical convection showing the altitude of the 0°C isotherm and the melting layer (bright band) in the stratiform rain region (after Leary and Houze 1979)

Citation: Journal of Climate 13, 23; 10.1175/1520-0442(2000)013<4137:COFLAF>2.0.CO;2

Fig. 2.
Fig. 2.

Instantaneous Z0 fields for 0000 UTC on 1 Jan and 1 Jul 1998. Contours are drawn at 0, 1000, 2000, 3000, 4000, 4500, 5000, 5500, and 6000 m. Regions with missing data (T < 0°C through the entire column) are not contoured

Citation: Journal of Climate 13, 23; 10.1175/1520-0442(2000)013<4137:COFLAF>2.0.CO;2

Fig. 3.
Fig. 3.

Monthly mean Z0 fields for Jan and Jul 1998. Each monthly mean map represents the mean of ∼120 instantaneous Z0 fields. To show more detail in the Tropics, where Z0 is smooth, contours are drawn at 0, 1000, 2000, 3000, 4000, 4500, 4750, 5000, 5250, 5500, and 6000 m

Citation: Journal of Climate 13, 23; 10.1175/1520-0442(2000)013<4137:COFLAF>2.0.CO;2

Fig. 4.
Fig. 4.

Intramonth standard deviation s0 for Jan and Jul 1998. Contours are drawn at 0, 25, 50, 75, 100, 200, 300, 400, and 500 m. Darker areas have less variability

Citation: Journal of Climate 13, 23; 10.1175/1520-0442(2000)013<4137:COFLAF>2.0.CO;2

Fig. 5.
Fig. 5.

Climatological monthly mean 〈Z0〉 fields for Jan, Apr, Jul, and Oct 1979–98. Contours are drawn at 0, 1000, 2000, 3000, 4000, 4500, 4750, 5000, 5250, 5500, and 6000 m

Citation: Journal of Climate 13, 23; 10.1175/1520-0442(2000)013<4137:COFLAF>2.0.CO;2

Fig. 6.
Fig. 6.

Interannual standard deviation S0 for Jan and Jul 1979–98. Contours are drawn at 0, 25, 50, 75, 100, 200, 300, 400, and 500 m. Darker areas have less variability

Citation: Journal of Climate 13, 23; 10.1175/1520-0442(2000)013<4137:COFLAF>2.0.CO;2

Fig. 7.
Fig. 7.

Climatological zonal mean cross sections of 〈Z0〉 for each month. The zonal mean of S0 is plotted as error bars. Missing data cause gaps outside the Tropics

Citation: Journal of Climate 13, 23; 10.1175/1520-0442(2000)013<4137:COFLAF>2.0.CO;2

Fig. 8.
Fig. 8.

Monthly mean anomalies Z0 for 1998. Contours are drawn every 200 m, from −800 to +800 m. Negative contours are dashed and positive contours are solid. The zero contour line is thicker for emphasis

Citation: Journal of Climate 13, 23; 10.1175/1520-0442(2000)013<4137:COFLAF>2.0.CO;2

Fig. 9.
Fig. 9.

The 1998 mean difference [H0] − [Z0]. Regions of missing data are unshaded (white)

Citation: Journal of Climate 13, 23; 10.1175/1520-0442(2000)013<4137:COFLAF>2.0.CO;2

Fig. 10.
Fig. 10.

Zonal-mean cross sections of the climatological values [〈Z0〉] (solid line), the values for each month of 1998 [Z0] (dashed line), and the TRMM retrievals H0 (dotted line), also for 1998

Citation: Journal of Climate 13, 23; 10.1175/1520-0442(2000)013<4137:COFLAF>2.0.CO;2

Fig. 11.
Fig. 11.

Zonal-mean cross sections of H0 − 〈Z0〉 for each month of 1998

Citation: Journal of Climate 13, 23; 10.1175/1520-0442(2000)013<4137:COFLAF>2.0.CO;2

Save