Diurnal Oscillation of the Area of Cloudiness Associated with Tropical Storms

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  • 1 National Hurricane and Experimental Meteorology Laboratory, NOAA, Coral Gables, Fla. 33124
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Abstract

An analysis of 16 days from eight Atlantic storms, two in 1974 and six in 1975, objectively quantified a suspected diurnal oscillation of tropical storm cirrus cloud cover. The oscillation shows a maximum area at approximately 1700 local mean solar time and a minimum area at 0300 local mean solar time. The average ratio of the maximum area to the minimum area is 1.65.

SMS infrared imagery was analyzed with a scanning false-color densitometer to obtain area measurements of the cloudiness associated with the storms. These measurements were made approximately every 1½ h at three temperature thresholds: 253, 239 and 223 K.

Two tests were performed to rule out the possibility of the oscillation being due either to the satellite sensor or to image processing. Measurement of the ocean surface temperature, was made with SMS-I to determine whether the sensor detected a constant ocean temperature. The second test compared simultaneous area measurements obtained by SMS-I and SMS-II. The results of these tests support the storm oscillation detected.

Two other related phenomena were also observed: 1) the amplitude of the area oscillation is apparently inversely proportional to the intensity of the storm, and 2) a time-dependent, shorter period oscillation is superimposed on the daily oscillation. Inferences of causality are made.

Abstract

An analysis of 16 days from eight Atlantic storms, two in 1974 and six in 1975, objectively quantified a suspected diurnal oscillation of tropical storm cirrus cloud cover. The oscillation shows a maximum area at approximately 1700 local mean solar time and a minimum area at 0300 local mean solar time. The average ratio of the maximum area to the minimum area is 1.65.

SMS infrared imagery was analyzed with a scanning false-color densitometer to obtain area measurements of the cloudiness associated with the storms. These measurements were made approximately every 1½ h at three temperature thresholds: 253, 239 and 223 K.

Two tests were performed to rule out the possibility of the oscillation being due either to the satellite sensor or to image processing. Measurement of the ocean surface temperature, was made with SMS-I to determine whether the sensor detected a constant ocean temperature. The second test compared simultaneous area measurements obtained by SMS-I and SMS-II. The results of these tests support the storm oscillation detected.

Two other related phenomena were also observed: 1) the amplitude of the area oscillation is apparently inversely proportional to the intensity of the storm, and 2) a time-dependent, shorter period oscillation is superimposed on the daily oscillation. Inferences of causality are made.

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