Nocturnal Cloud Systems and the Diurnal Variation of Clouds and Rainfall in Southwestern Amazonia

Rickenbach, Thomas M.
May 2004
Monthly Weather Review;May2004, Vol. 132 Issue 5, p1201
Academic Journal
This paper examines the origins of a secondary nocturnal maximum in cloudiness and precipitation in south-western Amazonia, a diurnal feature observed previously by many investigators. Analysis is based on satellite, radar, sounding, and profiler observations of precipitating systems and cloudiness from the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission Large-Scale Biosphere-Atmosphere (TRMM-LBA) and the coincident Wet-Season Atmospheric Mesoscale Campaign (WETAMC) field programs during the early 1999 wet season. The general finding is that following the collapse of the nearly ubiquitous and locally generated afternoon ("noon balloon") convection, organized deep convection contributes to a postmidnight maximum in raining area and high cloudiness, and to a lesser extent rainfall. Nocturnal convective systems have the effect of weakening and delaying the onset of the following afternoon's convection. Many of these nocturnal convective events are traced to large-scale squall lines, which propagate westward thousands of kilometers from their point of origin along the northeast coast of Brazil. In addition, a previously undescribed nocturnal stratiform drizzle phenomenon, generated above the melting layer independently from deep convection, contributes significantly to nocturnal cloud cover. Results from this study underscore the complex influence of propagating large-scale organized convection in locally modulating the diurnal; variation in clouds and rain. the greatest significance of the nocturnal drizzle may be the potential effect on the diurnal radiation budget by the extensive midlevel nocturnal clouds rather than their marginal contribution to nocturnal rainfall.


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