Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres

Characteristics of tropical cyclone precipitation features over the western Pacific warm pool


Corresponding author: L. Thatcher, Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Utah, 135 S 1460 E, Rm. 819, Salt Lake City, UT 84112, USA. (


[1] In this study, ten years (1998–2007) of the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM)-derivative radar precipitation feature (PF) product are analyzed in order to determine the differences between tropical cyclone-related precipitation characteristics compared with those of the tropical Pacific warm pool (10 to 30°N and 130 to 150°E) in general. The PF data, from the University of Utah's archive, are based on the TRMM precipitation radar's 2A25 product, where one PF consists of a single or group of contiguous pixels with near surface rainfall greater than zero. Using the PF database, the height and area of tropical background PFs versus those within 500 km of tropical cyclones (TCs) are compared. It is found that TC-related PFs are markedly more frequent from 5 to 10 km altitude than are background tropical PFs. The enhanced midlevel TC-related populations not only exist in stratiform precipitation around the melting level at 5.5 km, but also from 6 to 9 km in stratiform regions, in convective precipitation, and when culling the smallest features from the data set. This increase in congestus-like echoes in TC environments aligns well with observations regarding mesoscale convective systems (MCSs), in which the enhanced ice present in MCS (and TC) environments creates a stabilized melting layer through cooling immediately below 0°C. This stable layer appears to enhance the detrainment of convective PFs in our TC data set at and for a few kilometers above the melting level.