"On the Land-Ocean Contrast of Tropical Convection and Microphysics Statistics Derived from TRMM Satellite Signals and Global Storm-Resolving Models"

J Hydrometeorol. 2016 May;17(5):1425-1445. doi: 10.1175/JHM-D-15-0111.1. Epub 2016 Apr 28.


A 14-year climatology of Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) collocated multi-sensor signal statistics reveal a distinct land-ocean contrast as well as geographical variability of precipitation type, intensity, and microphysics. Microphysics information inferred from the TRMM precipitation radar and Microwave Imager (TMI) show a large land-ocean contrast for the deep category, suggesting continental convective vigor. Over land, TRMM shows higher echo-top heights and larger maximum echoes, suggesting taller storms and more intense precipitation, as well as larger microwave scattering, suggesting the presence of more/larger frozen convective hydrometeors. This strong land-ocean contrast in deep convection is invariant over seasonal and multi-year time-scales. Consequently, relatively short-term simulations from two global storm-resolving models can be evaluated in terms of their land-ocean statistics using the TRMM Triple-sensor Three-step Evaluation via a satellite simulator. The models evaluated are the NASA Multi-scale Modeling Framework (MMF) and the Non-hydrostatic Icosahedral Cloud Atmospheric Model (NICAM). While both simulations can represent convective land-ocean contrasts in warm precipitation to some extent, near-surface conditions over land are relatively moisture in NICAM than MMF, which appears to be the key driver in the divergent warm precipitation results between the two models. Both the MMF and NICAM produced similar frequencies of large CAPE between land and ocean. The dry MMF boundary layer enhanced microwave scattering signals over land, but only NICAM had an enhanced deep convection frequency over land. Neither model could reproduce a realistic land-ocean contrast in in deep convective precipitation microphysics. A realistic contrast between land and ocean remains an issue in global storm-resolving modeling.