Satellite-Derived Integrated Water-Vapor Distribution in Oceanic Midlatitude Storms: Variation with Region and Season

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

With the atmospheric water-vapor content information available from the SEASAT and Nimbus-7 Scanning Multichannel Microwave Radiometers (SMMR), differences in water-vapor distribution between cyclonic storms in different regions of the global ocean can be examined in more detail than previously possible from radiosondes. SMMR-derived integrated water vapor is a robust and dependable variable of the same accuracy as integrated radiosonde soundings. In this study, maximum and minimum water-vapor content in the vicinity of cold fronts of 80 storms that occurred in the North Atlantic, North Pacific and Southern oceans are compared. North Atlantic storms were found to have significantly higher maximum and minimum water-vapor content near cold fronts on average than North Pacific or Southern ocean storms for both the warm and cold seasons. These differences are attributed to warmer sea surface temperatures and air temperatures in the North Atlantic, and higher baroclinity and consequently stronger upward motion in North Atlantic storms. Additionally, some of the differences may be attributed to the fact that the North Atlantic storms generally occur at lower latitudes than the storms in the other regions. Furthermore, the North Pacific storms were found to have significantly higher maximum and minimum water-vapor content near cold fronts on average than the Southern Ocean storms for both the warm and cold seasons. These differences are attributable to warmer sea surface temperatures in the North Pacific during the warm season, and to less moisture transport by Southern Ocean storms and the poleward location of the Southern Ocean storms compared to North Pacific storms during the cold season. Two examples of water-vapor content in a South Atlantic storm are given to contrast with the Southern Ocean cases. The South Atlantic storm had much higher maximum water-vapor content near the cold front than most Southern Ocean storms.

Abstract

With the atmospheric water-vapor content information available from the SEASAT and Nimbus-7 Scanning Multichannel Microwave Radiometers (SMMR), differences in water-vapor distribution between cyclonic storms in different regions of the global ocean can be examined in more detail than previously possible from radiosondes. SMMR-derived integrated water vapor is a robust and dependable variable of the same accuracy as integrated radiosonde soundings. In this study, maximum and minimum water-vapor content in the vicinity of cold fronts of 80 storms that occurred in the North Atlantic, North Pacific and Southern oceans are compared. North Atlantic storms were found to have significantly higher maximum and minimum water-vapor content near cold fronts on average than North Pacific or Southern ocean storms for both the warm and cold seasons. These differences are attributed to warmer sea surface temperatures and air temperatures in the North Atlantic, and higher baroclinity and consequently stronger upward motion in North Atlantic storms. Additionally, some of the differences may be attributed to the fact that the North Atlantic storms generally occur at lower latitudes than the storms in the other regions. Furthermore, the North Pacific storms were found to have significantly higher maximum and minimum water-vapor content near cold fronts on average than the Southern Ocean storms for both the warm and cold seasons. These differences are attributable to warmer sea surface temperatures in the North Pacific during the warm season, and to less moisture transport by Southern Ocean storms and the poleward location of the Southern Ocean storms compared to North Pacific storms during the cold season. Two examples of water-vapor content in a South Atlantic storm are given to contrast with the Southern Ocean cases. The South Atlantic storm had much higher maximum water-vapor content near the cold front than most Southern Ocean storms.

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