Characteristics of Precipitating Convective Systems Accounting for the Summer...

Romatschke, U., and R. Houze (2013), Characteristics of Precipitating Convective Systems Accounting for the Summer Rainfall of Tropical and Subtropical South America, J. Hydrometeorology, 14, 25-46, doi:10.1175/JHM-D-12-060.1.

Ten years of Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission precipitation radar data are used to study the physical properties of the precipitating cloud systems that account for the summer rainfall of tropical and subtropical South America. Radar echoes in the continental subtropics tend to be of an intensely convective nature, especially at the eastern foothills of the Andes where diurnally forced deep convective cells of small horizontal scale form when moist low-level flow is driven toward the foothills in connection with a midlatitude disturbance. As the disturbance moves east over the La Plata basin, nocturnal convective systems of larger horizontal scale with wide stratiform regions occur in a zone of general convergence. Precipitation in the continental tropics is generally produced by convective systems with greater stratiform composition. At the northeastern foothills of the central Andes, radar echoes of nocturnal convective systems of medium to large horizontal scale occur where moist low-level flow is lifted over the foothills. Growth of systems to large size is inhibited by daytime divergence at the foothills. Over the Amazon basin, daytime systems are also smaller than nocturnal systems. Radar echoes of precipitation over the Brazilian Highlands are generally smaller in horizontal scale, more convective, and mostly occur during the afternoon over elevated terrain. In the oceanic South Atlantic convergence zone, radar echoes grow to extremely large sizes. They are highly stratiform in nature and occur during all times of the day except late evening when convergence is weakened as a response to continental heating.

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