Atmospheric Water Distribution in a Midlatitude Cyclone Observed by the Seasat Scanning Multichannel Microwave Radiometer

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  • 1 Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195
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Abstract

Patterns in the horizontal distribution of integrated water vapor, integrated liquid water and rainfall rate derived from the Seasat Scanning Multichannel Microwave Radiometer (SMMR) during a 10–12 September 1978 North Pacific cyclone are studied. These patterns are compared with surface analyses, ship reports, radiosonde data, and GOES-West infrared satellite imagery. The SMMR data give a unique view of the large mesoscale structure of a midlatitude cyclone. The water vapor distribution is found to have characteristic patterns related to the location of the surface fronts throughout the development of the cyclone. An example is given to illustrate that SMMR data could significantly improve frontal analysis over data-sparse oceanic regions. The distribution of integrated liquid water agrees qualitatively well with corresponding cloud patterns in satellite imagery and appears to provide a means to distinguish where liquid water clouds exist under a cirrus shield. Ship reports of rainfall intensity agree qualitatively very well with SMMR-derived rainrates. Areas of mesoscale rainfall, on the order of 50 km × 50 km or greater are detected using SMMR derived rainrates.

Abstract

Patterns in the horizontal distribution of integrated water vapor, integrated liquid water and rainfall rate derived from the Seasat Scanning Multichannel Microwave Radiometer (SMMR) during a 10–12 September 1978 North Pacific cyclone are studied. These patterns are compared with surface analyses, ship reports, radiosonde data, and GOES-West infrared satellite imagery. The SMMR data give a unique view of the large mesoscale structure of a midlatitude cyclone. The water vapor distribution is found to have characteristic patterns related to the location of the surface fronts throughout the development of the cyclone. An example is given to illustrate that SMMR data could significantly improve frontal analysis over data-sparse oceanic regions. The distribution of integrated liquid water agrees qualitatively well with corresponding cloud patterns in satellite imagery and appears to provide a means to distinguish where liquid water clouds exist under a cirrus shield. Ship reports of rainfall intensity agree qualitatively very well with SMMR-derived rainrates. Areas of mesoscale rainfall, on the order of 50 km × 50 km or greater are detected using SMMR derived rainrates.

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