A Statistical Study on Rain Characteristics of Tropical Cyclones Using TRMM Satellite Data

Yokoyama, Chie; Takayabu, Yukari N.
October 2008
Monthly Weather Review;Oct2008, Vol. 136 Issue 10, p3848
Academic Journal
Three-dimensional rain characteristics of tropical cyclones (TCs) are statistically quantified, using Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) data from December 1997 to December 2003. Tropical cyclones are classified into four maximum intensity classes (<34, 34–64, 64–128, and ≥128 kt) and three stages (developing, mature, and decaying). First, rain characteristics of TCs are compared with those of the equatorial (10°N–10°S) mean. A notable finding here is that the average stratiform rain ratio (SRR), which is the contribution from stratiform rain in the total rainfall, of TCs is 52%, while it is 44% for the equatorial oceanic mean and 46% for the Madden–Julian oscillation in its mature phase. Stronger rain is observed in TCs both for convective and stratiform rain. Second, radial rain characteristics of TCs suggest that the region 0–60 km can be classified as “the inner core,” and 60–500 km as “the rainband.” The inner core is characterized with small SRR, very high rain-top height, and a large flash rate, indicating the vigor of convective activity. In contrast, the rainband is characterized with large SRR and relatively large rain yield per flash, indicating a large rainfall amount with a moderate convective activity. An important implication of this study is that TCs are listed in the high end of tropical oceanic organized rain systems, in terms of the organization levels of rain. Last, we use the above composite results to calculate the rainfall contribution of TCs to total annual rainfall between 35°N and 35°S as 3.3% ± 0.1%.


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