Global and regional diurnal variations of organized convection

Giorgos Tsakraklides, Jenni L. Evans

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22 Scopus citations


An automated objective classification procedure, the Convection Classification and Automated Tracking System (CCATS), is used to analyze the mean life cycles of organized convection in the global Tropics and midlatitudes (40°N-40°S). Five years (1989-93) of infrared satellite imagery are examined for the Pacific and Atlantic basins and one year (April 1988-March 1989) is studied for the Indian basin. Two main classes of organized convection (lifetime of 6 h or more) are tracked: MCT and CCC. MCT represent a combined dataset of tropical cyclones and mesoscale convective complexes (MCC). Convective cloud clusters (CCC) meet the same cold cloud-top temperature, time, and size criteria used to distinguish MCC, but fail to sustain the same high degree of symmetry for at least 6 h. That is, CCC represent more elongated systems, such as squall lines. The frequency of CCC exceeds that of MCT by a factor of 30 over both land and sea. MCT and CCC are each stratified to into 12 continental and oceanic regions and the diurnal variation of system characteristics in each geographic region are studied, leading to composite life cycle descriptions for each region. Oceanic CCC formed overnight and the shorter-lived, land-based CCC formed in the afternoon; apart from this time offset, oceanic and land-based CCC were found to have very similar life cycle evolution patterns. Continental MCT exhibit a rapid size expansion early: this is not part of the oceanic system life cycle. Apart from this growth spurt, the evolution of land and ocean MCT follows the same pattern of CCC with early symmetry, then size expansion until just before termination. Land-based MCT are longer lived and more symmetric than oceanic MCT.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1562-1572
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Climate
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 15 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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