A Method for Calculating the Height of Overshooting Convective Cloud Tops Using...

Griffin, S. M., K. M. Bedka, and C. Velden (2016), A Method for Calculating the Height of Overshooting Convective Cloud Tops Using Satellite-Based IR Imager and CloudSat Cloud Profiling Radar Observations, J. Appl. Meteor. Climat., 55, 479-491, doi:10.1175/JAMC-D-15-0170.1.

Assigning accurate heights to convective cloud tops that penetrate into the upper troposphere–lower stratosphere (UTLS) region using infrared (IR) satellite imagery has been an unresolved issue for the satellite research community. The height assignment for the tops of optically thick clouds is typically accomplished by matching the observed IR brightness temperature (BT) with a collocated rawinsonde or numerical weather prediction (NWP) profile. However, ‘‘overshooting tops’’ (OTs) are typically colder (in BT) than any vertical level in the associated profile, leaving the height of these tops undetermined using this standard approach. A new method is described here for calculating the heights of convectively driven OTs using the characteristic temperature lapse rate of the cloud top as it ascends into the UTLS region. Using 108 MODIS-identified OT events that are directly observed by the CloudSat Cloud Profiling Radar (CPR), the MODIS-derived brightness temperature difference (BTD) between the OT and anvil regions can be defined. This BTD is combined with the CPR- and NWP-derived height difference between these two regions to determine the mean lapse rate, 27.34 K km21, for the 108 events. The anvil height is typically well known, and an automated OT detection algorithm is used to derive BTD, so the lapse rate allows a height to be calculated for any detected OT. An empirical fit between MODIS and geostationary imager IR BT for OTs and anvil regions was performed to enable application of this method to coarser-spatial-resolution geostationary data. Validation indicates that ;75% (65%) of MODIS (geostationary) OT heights are within 6500 m of the coincident CPR-estimated heights.

PDF of Publication: 
Download from publisher's website.