Anvil clouds of tropical mesoscale convective systems in monsoon regions

Cetrone, J., and R. Houze (2009), Anvil clouds of tropical mesoscale convective systems in monsoon regions, Q. J. R. Meteorol. Soc., 135, 305-317, doi:10.1002/qj.389.

The anvil clouds of tropical mesoscale convective systems (MCSs) in West Africa, the Maritime Continent and the Bay of Bengal have been examined with TRMM and CloudSat satellite data and ARM ground-based radar observations. The anvils spreading out from the precipitating cores of MCSs are subdivided into thick, medium and thin portions. The thick portions of anvils show distinct differences from one climatological regime to another. In their upper portions, the thick anvils of West Africa MCSs have a broad, flat histogram of reflectivity, and a maximum of reflectivity in their lower portions. The reflectivity histogram of the Bay of Bengal thick anvils has a sharply peaked distribution of reflectivity at all altitudes with modal values that increase monotonically downward. The reflectivity histogram of the Maritime Continent thick anvils is intermediate between that of the West Africa and Bay of Bengal anvils, consistent with the fact this region comprises a mix of land and ocean influences. It is suggested that the difference between the statistics of the continental and oceanic anvils is related to some combination of two factors: (1) the West African anvils tend to be closely tied to the convective regions of MCSs while the oceanic anvils are more likely to be extending outward from large stratiform precipitation areas of MCSs, and (2) the West African MCSs result from greater buoyancy, so that the convective cells are more likely to produce graupel particles and detrain them into anvils. Copyright c 2009 Royal Meteorological Society

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