Latent Heating Contribution from Precipitation Systems with Different Sizes, Depths, and Intensities in the Tropics

Liu, Chuntao; Shige, Shoichi; Takayabu, Yukari N.; Zipser, Edward
January 2015
Journal of Climate;Jan2015, Vol. 28 Issue 1, p186
Academic Journal
Latent heating (LH) from precipitation systems with different sizes, depths, and convective intensities is quantified with 15 years of LH retrievals from version 7 Precipitation Radar (PR) products of the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM). Organized precipitation systems, such as mesoscale convective systems (MCSs; precipitation area > 2000 km2), contribute to 88% of the LH above 7 km over tropical land and 95% over tropical oceans. LH over tropical land is mainly from convective precipitation, and has one vertical mode with a peak from 4 to 7 km. There are two vertical modes of LH over tropical oceans. The shallow mode from about 1 to 4 km results from small, shallow, and weak precipitation systems, and partially from congestus clouds with radar echo top between 5 and 8 km. The deep mode from 5 to 9 km is mainly from stratiform precipitation in MCSs. MCSs of different regions and seasons have different LH vertical structure mainly due to the different proportion of stratiform precipitation. MCSs over ocean have a larger fraction of stratiform precipitation and a top-heavy LH structure. MCSs over land have a higher percentage of convective versus stratiform precipitation, which results in a relatively lower-level peak in LH compared to MCSs over the ocean. MCSs during monsoons have properties of LH in between those typical land and oceanic MCSs. Consistent with the diurnal variation of precipitation, tropical land has a stronger LH diurnal variation than tropical oceans with peak LH in the late afternoon. Over tropical oceans in the early morning, the shallow mode of LH peaks slightly earlier than the deep mode. There are almost no diurnal changes of MCSs LH over oceans. However, the small convective systems over land contribute a significant amount of LH at all vertical levels in the afternoon, when the contribution of MCSs is small.


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