Journal of Meteorological Research

, Volume 33, Issue 3, pp 446–462 | Cite as

Comparative Analyses of Vertical Structure of Deep Convective Clouds Retrieved from Satellites and Ground-Based Radars at Naqu over the Tibetan Plateau

  • Hui WangEmail author
  • Xueliang Guo
Special Collection on the Third Tibetan Plateau Atmospheric Science Experiment (TIPEX-III)


In order to improve understanding of deep convective clouds over the Tibetan Plateau, characteristics of vertical structure of a deep strong convective cloud over Naqu station and a deep weak convective cloud approximately 100 km to the west of Naqu station, which occurred over 1300–1600 Beijing Time (BT) 9 July 2014 during the Third Tibetan Plateau Atmospheric Science Experiment (TIPEX-III), are analyzed, based on multi-source satellite data from TRMM, CloudSat, and Aqua, and radar data from ground-based vertically pointing radars (C-band frequency-modulated continuous-wave radar and KA-band millimeter wave cloud radar). The results are as follows. (1) The horizontal scales of both the deep strong and deep weak convective clouds were small (10–20 km), and their tops were high [15–16 km above sea level (ASL)]. Across the level of 0°C isotherm in the deep strong convective cloud, the reflectivity increased rapidly, suggesting that the melting process of solid precipitation particles through the 0°C level played an important role. A bright band located at 5.5 km ASL (i.e., 1 km above ground level) appeared during the period of convection weakening. (2) The reflectivity values from TRMM precipitation radar below 11 km were found to be overestimated compared to those derived from the C-band frequency-modulated continuous-wave radar. (3) Deep convective clouds were mainly ice clouds, and there were rich small ice particles above 10 km, while few large ice particles were found below 10 km. The microphysical processes of deep strong and deep weak convective clouds mainly included mixed-phase process and glaciated process, and the mixed-phase process can be divided into two types: one was the rimming process below the level of −25°C (deep strong convective cloud) or −29°C (deep weak convective cloud) and the other was aggregation and deposition process above that level. The latter process was accompanied with fast increase in ice particle effective radius. The above evidence from space-based and ground-based observational data further clarify the characteristics of vertical structure of deep convective clouds over the Tibetan Plateau, and provide a basis for the evaluation of simulation results of deep convective clouds by cloud models.

Key words

deep convective clouds the Tibetan Plateau vertical structure satellite retrieval radar observation 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.



We acknowledge the team of the Third Tibetan Plateau Atmospheric Science Experiment for providing the surface observations of cloud and precipitation. Many thanks go to Professor Zhijin Hu, Professor Xiaofeng Lou, and Dr. Jing Duan for offering great suggestions and comments for the present study.


  1. Chang, Y., and X. L. Guo, 2016: Characteristics of convective cloud and precipitation during summer time at Naqu over Tibetan Plateau. Chinese Sci. Bull., 61, 1706–1720, DOI: (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  2. Chen, L. X., Y. K. Song, J. P. Liu, et al., 1999: On the diurnal variation of convection over Qinghai-Tibet Plateau during summer as revealed from meteorological satellite data. Acta Meteor. Sinica, 57, 549–560, DOI: (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  3. Dai, J., X. Yu, G. H. Liu, et al., 2011: Satellite retrieval analysis on microphysical property of thunderstorm with light precipitation over the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. Plateau Meteor., 30, 288–298. (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  4. Feng, J. M., L. P. Liu, Z. J. Wang, et al., 2001: Comparison of cloud observed by ground based Doppler radar with TRMM PR in Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, China. Plateau Meteor., 20, 345–353. (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  5. Flohn, H., 1968: Contributions to a meteorology of the Tibetan highlands. Atmospheric science paper, No. 130, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, 120 pp.Google Scholar
  6. Fu, R., Y. L. Hu, J. S. Wright, et al., 2006: Short circuit of water vapor and polluted air to the global stratosphere by convective transport over the Tibetan Plateau. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 103, 5664–5669, DOI: Scholar
  7. Fu, Y. F., G. S. Liu, G. X. Wu, et al., 2006: Tower mast of precipitation over the central Tibetan Plateau summer. Geophys. Res. Lett., 33, L05802, DOI: Scholar
  8. Fu, Y. F., H. T. Li, and Y. Zi, 2007: Case study of precipitation cloud structure viewed by TRMM satellite in a valley of the Tibetan Plateau. Plateau Meteor, 26, 98–106. (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  9. Fu, Y. F., X. Pan, G. S. Liu, et al., 2016: Characteristics of precipitation based on cloud brightness temperatures and storm tops in summer Tibetan Plateau. Chinese J. Atmos. Sci, 40, 102–120, DOI: (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  10. Jakob, C., and S. A. Klein, 1999: The role of vertically varying cloud fraction in the parametrization of microphysical processes in the ECMWF model. Quart. J. Roy. Meteor. Soc., 125, 941–965, DOI: Scholar
  11. Jiang, J. X., X. K. Xiang, M. Z. Fan, 1996: The spatial and temporal distributions of severe mesoscale convective systems over Tibetan Plateau in summer. J. Appl. Meteor. Sci., 7, 473–478. (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  12. Kummerow, C., W. Barnes, T. Kozu, et al., 1998: The tropical rainfall measuring mission (TRMM) sensor package. J. Atmos. Oceanic Technol., 15, 809–817, DOI:<0809:ttrmmt>;2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Li, D., A. J. Bai, and S. J. Huang, 2012: Characteristic analysis of a severe convective weather over Tibetan Plateau based on TRMM data. Plateau Meteor., 31, 304–311. (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  14. Liu, J. J., and B. D. Chen, 2017: Cloud occurrence frequency and structure over the Qinghai-Tibetan plateau from CloudSat observation. Plateau Meteor., 36, 632–642, DOI: (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  15. Liu, L. P., J. F. Zheng, Z. Ruan, et al., 2015: Comprehensive radar observations of clouds and precipitation over the Tibetan Plateau and preliminary analysis of cloud properties. J. Meteor. Res., 29, 546–561, DOI: Scholar
  16. Luo, Y. L., R. H. Zhang, W. M. Qian, et al., 2011: Intercomparison of deep convection over the Tibetan Plateau-Asian monsoon region and subtropical North America in boreal summer using CloudSat/CALIPOS data. J. Climate, 24, 2164–2177, DOI: Scholar
  17. Oye, D., and M. Case, 1995: REORDER: A Program for Gridding Radar Data—Installation and Use Manual for the UNIX Version. NCAR/ATD. Boulder, CO, USA, 30 pp.Google Scholar
  18. Pan, X., and Y. F. Fu, 2015: Analysis on climatological characteristics of deep and shallow precipitation cloud in summer over Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. Plateau Meteor., 34, 1191–1203, DOI: (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  19. Platnick, S., M. D. King, K. G. Meyer, et al., 2015: MODIS Cloud Optical Properties: User Guide for the Collection 6 Level-2 MOD06/MYD06 Product and Associated Level-3 Datasets. Version 1.0, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, USA, 141 pp.Google Scholar
  20. Qie, X. S., X. K. Wu, T. Yuan, et al., 2014: Comprehensive pattern of deep convective systems over the Tibetan Plateau-South Asian monsoon region based on TRMM data. J. Climate, 27, 6612–6626, DOI: Scholar
  21. Randall, D. A., D. A. Dazlich, T. G Corsetti, 1989: Interactions among radiation, convection, and large-scale dynamics in a general circulation model. J. Atmos. Sci., 46, 1943–1970, DOI:<1943:IARCAL>2.0.CO;2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Rosenfeld, D., and I. M. Lensky, 1998: Satellite-based insights into precipitation formation processes in continental and maritime convective clouds. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 79, 2457–2476, DOI:<2457:SBIJPF>2.0.CO;2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Rosenfeld, D., and W. L. Woodley, 2000: Deep convective clouds with sustained supercooled liquid water down to −37.5°C. Nature, 440–442, DOI:
  24. Savtchenko, A., D. Ouzounov, S. Ahmad, et al., 2004: Terra and Aqua MODIS products available from NASA GES DAAC. Adv. Space Res., 34, 710–714, DOI: Scholar
  25. Stephens, G. L., D. G. Vane, R. J. Boain, et al., 2002: The Cloud-Sat Mission and the A-Train: A new dimension of space-based observations of clouds and precipitation. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 83, 1771–1790, DOI: 10.1I75/BAMS-83-I2-I77I.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Uyeda, H., H. Yamada, J. Horikomi, et al., 2001: Characteristics of convective clouds observed by a Doppler radar at Naqu on Tibetan Plateau during the GAME-Tibet IOP. J. Meteor. Soc. Japan, 79, 463–174, DOI: Scholar
  27. Wang, H., Y. L. Luo, R. H. Zhang, 2011: Analyzing seasonal variation of clouds over the Asian monsoon regions and the Tibetan Plateau region using CloudSat/CALIPSO data. Chinese J. Atmos. Sci., 35, 1117–1131. (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  28. Wang, H., Y. L. Luo, B. J. D. Jou, 2014: Initiation, maintenance, and properties of convection in an extreme rainfall event during SCMREX: Observational analysis. J. Geophys. Res. Atmos., 119, 13206–13232, DOI: Scholar
  29. Wang, J. H., and W. B. Rossow, 1998: Effects of cloud vertical structure on atmospheric circulation in the GISS GCM. J. Climate, 11, 3010–3029, DOI:<30 10:eocvso>;2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Wang, S. H., Z. G. Han, Z. G. Yao, et al., 2011: An analysis of cloud types and macroscopic characteristics over China and its neighborhood based on the CloudSat data. Acta Meteor. Sinica, 69, 883–899. (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  31. Xu, W. X., 2013: Precipitation and convective characteristics of summer deep convection over East Asia observed by TRMM. Mon. Wea. Rev., 141, 1577–1592, DOI: Scholar
  32. Yasunari, T., and T. Miwa, 2006: Convective cloud systems over the Tibetan Plateau and their impact on meso-scale disturbances in the Meiyu/Baiu frontal zone—a case study in 1998. J. Meteor. Soc. Japan, 84, 783–803, DOI: Scholar
  33. Yuan, T. L., and Z. Q. Li, 2010: General macro- and microphysical properties of deep convective clouds as observed by MODIS. J. Climate, 23, 3457–3473, DOI: Scholar
  34. Yuan, T. L., J. V. Martins, Z. Q. Li, et al., 2010: Estimating glaciation temperature of deep convective clouds with remote sensing data. Geophys. Res. Lett., 37, L08808, DOI: Scholar
  35. Zhao, P., and Y. Yuan, 2017: Characteristics of a plateau vortex precipitation event on 14 July 2014. J. Appl. Meteor. Sci, 28, 532–543, DOI: (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  36. Zhao, P., X. D. Xu, F. Chen, et al., 2018: The Third Atmospheric Scientific Experiment for understanding the earth-atmosphere coupled system over the Tibetan Plateau and its effects. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 99, 757–776, DOI: Scholar
  37. Zhao, Y. F., D. H. Wang, and J. F. Yin, 2014: A study on cloud microphysical characteristics over the Tibetan Plateau using CloudSat data. J. Trop. Meteor., 30, 239–248, DOI: (in Chinese)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Chinese Meteorological Society and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Severe WeatherChinese Academy of Meteorological Sciences, China Meteorological AdministrationBeijingChina
  2. 2.Key Laboratory for Cloud Physics of China Meteorological AdministrationChinese Academy of Meteorological Sciences, China Meteorological AdministrationBeijingChina

Personalised recommendations