A cloud and precipitation feature database from nine years of TRMM observations

Chuntao Liu, Edward J. Zipser, Daniel J. Cecil, Stephen W. Nesbitt, Steven Sherwood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


An event-based method of analyzing the measurements from multiple satellite sensors is presented by using observations of the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) precipitation radar (PR), Microwave Imager (TMI), Visible and Infrared Scanner (VIRS), and Lightning Imaging System (LIS). First, the observations from PR, VIRS, TMI, and LIS are temporally and spatially collocated. Then the cloud and precipitation features are defined by grouping contiguous pixels using various criteria, including surface rain, cold infrared, or microwave brightness temperature. The characteristics of measurements from different sensors inside these features are summarized. Then, climatological descriptions of many properties of the identified features are generated. This analysis method condenses the original information of pixel-level measurements into the properties of events, which can greatly increase the efficiency of searching and sorting the observed historical events. Using the TRMM cloud and precipitation feature database, the regional variations of rainfall contribution by features with different size, intensity, and PR reflectivity vertical structure are shown. Above the freezing level, land storms tend to have larger 20-dBZ area and reach higher altitude than is the case for oceanic storms, especially those land storms over central Africa. Horizontal size and the maximum reflectivity of oceanic storms decrease with altitude. For land storms, these intensity measures increase with altitude between 2 km and the freezing level and decrease more slowly with altitude above the freezing level than for ocean storms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2712-2728
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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