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Evolution of the Population of Precipitating Convective Systems over the...

Zuluaga, M. D., and R. Houze (2013), Evolution of the Population of Precipitating Convective Systems over the Equatorial Indian Ocean in Active Phases of the Madden–Julian Oscillation, J. Atmos. Sci., 70, 2713-2725, doi:10.1175/JAS-D-12-0311.1.

Three-dimensional radar reflectivity fields from a dual-wavelength Doppler polarimetric radar (S-PolKa) deployed in the equatorial Indian Ocean are used to evaluate the composition of the population of convective cloud elements during active phases of the MJO. Rainfall in active periods was intermittent, occurring in 11 episodes of about 2–4 days, separated by several nonrainy days. Data for these 2-day periods were composited relative to the time of maximum rainfall. Analysis of the S-PolKa data shows the makeup of the convective population during the rainfall episodes. Four types of echo structures were analyzed statistically for the 11 rainfall episodes: shallow convective echoes (SCE), deep convective cores (DCC), wide convective echo cores (WCC), and broad stratiform (BSR) echo regions. SCE and DCC events were most frequent before the maximum rainfall, with the peak frequency of SCE leading that of DCCs. WCCs were most frequent during the rainfall maximum, and BSR regions were most frequent in the later part of the rainfall episode. Composited ECMWF Interim Re-Analysis (ERA-Interim) data and 3-hourly atmospheric soundings indicate that the 2–4-day episodes were related to the passage of equatorial waves. In the early part of a rainfall episode, the wave-passage conditions were unstable, favoring deep penetrating convective elements, while in the later period the wave divergence profile was commensurate with convective systems in late anvil-producing stages. These results support the stretched building-block notion of the life cycle of tropical convection and confirm satellitebased interpretations of SCE, DCC, WCC, and BSR statistics in the composition of the convective population.

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