, Volume 59, Issue 1-2, pp 141-151

Application of the 915 MHz profiler for diagnosing and classifying tropical precipitating cloud systems

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The NOAA Aeronomy Laboratory has developed a 915 MHz lower tropospheric wind profiler designed primarily for measuring wind in the planetary boundary layer of the tropics. In recent years the profiler has been used in many field programs worldwide. The profiler is being deployed by the Aeronomy Laboratory at several locations in the tropics to provide long-term measurements for the Tropical Ocean Global Atmosphere (TOGA) program and the Global Ocean Atmosphere Land Surface (GOALS) program. In the absence of precipitating cloud systems the profiler observes winds routinely up to altitudes of 3 to 6 km in the tropics depending primarily on humidity. In the presence of precipitating cloud systems, however, the profiler height coverage is substantially increased due to the presence of hydrometeors to which the profiler is sensitive at its wavelength of 33 cm. In this paper we examine the application of the 915 MHz profiler to the diagnosis and classification of precipitating cloud systems in the tropics. Preliminary results from Christmas Island confirm that at least half of tropical rainfall is stratiform in nature being associated with mesoscale convective systems. The 915 MHz profiler provides a means for the development of a climatology of tropical precipitating cloud systems. Such a climatology is needed to specify diabatic heating rates in large-scale numerical weather prediction and climate models. It should also help develop improved rain retrieval algorithms from satellite observations.

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