A 17 year climatology of the macrophysical properties of convection in Darwin

Robert C. Jackson, Scott M. Collis, Valentin Louf, Alain Protat, Leon Majewski

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8 Citations (Scopus)


The validation of convective processes in global climate models (GCMs) could benefit from the use of large datasets that provide long-Term climatologies of the spatial statistics of convection. To that regard, echo top heights (ETHs), convective areas, and frequencies of mesoscale convective systems (MCSs) from 17 years of data from a C-band polarization (CPOL) radar are analyzed in varying phases of the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) and northern Australian monsoon in order to provide ample validation statistics for GCM validation. The ETHs calculated using velocity texture and reflectivity provide similar results, showing that the ETHs are insensitive to various techniques that can be used. Retrieved ETHs are correlated with those from cloud top heights retrieved by Multifunctional Transport Satellites (MTSATs), showing that the ETHs capture the relative variability in cloud top heights over seasonal scales.

Bimodal distributions of ETH, likely attributable to the cumulus congestus clouds and mature stages of convection, are more commonly observed when the active phase of the MJO is over Australia due to greater mid-level moisture during the active phase of the MJO. The presence of a convectively stable layer at around 5 km altitude over Darwin inhibiting convection past this level can explain the position of the modes at around 2-4 km and 7-9 km. Larger cells were observed during break conditions compared to monsoon conditions, but only during the inactive phase of the MJO. The spatial distributions show that Hector, a deep convective system that occurs almost daily during the wet season over the Tiwi Islands, and sea-breeze convergence lines are likely more common in break conditions. Oceanic MCSs are more common during the night over Darwin. Convective areas were generally smaller and MCSs more frequent during active monsoon conditions. In general, the MJO is a greater control on the ETHs in the deep convective mode observed over Darwin, with higher distributions of ETH when the MJO is active over Darwin.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17687-17704
Number of pages18
JournalAtmospheric Chemistry and Physics
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - 13 Dec 2018

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