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Journal Articles Journal of Climate Year : 2021

Transient Aggregation of Convection: Observed Behavior and Underlying Processes

Hirohiko Masunaga
  • Function : Author
Christopher Holloway
  • Function : Author
Hironari Kanamori
  • Function : Author
Thorwald Stein
  • Function : Author


Abstract Convective self-aggregation is among the most striking features emerging from radiative–convective equilibrium simulations, but its relevance to convective disturbances observed in the real atmosphere remains under debate. This work seeks the observational signals of convective aggregation intrinsic to the life cycle of cloud clusters. To this end, composite time series of the Simple Convective Aggregation Index (SCAI), a metric of aggregation, and other variables from satellite measurements are constructed around the temporal maxima of precipitation. All the parameters analyzed are large-scale means over 10° × 10° domains. The composite evolution for heavy precipitation regimes shows that cloud clusters are gathered into fewer members during a period of ±12 h as precipitation picks up. The high-cloud cover per cluster expands as the number of clusters drops, suggesting a transient occurrence of convective aggregation. The sign of the transient aggregation is less evident or entirely absent in light precipitation regimes. An energy budget analysis is performed in search of the physical processes underlying the transient aggregation. The column moist static energy (MSE) accumulates before the precipitation peak and dissipates after, accounted for primarily by the horizontal MSE advection. The domain-averaged column radiative cooling is greater in a more aggregated composite than in a less aggregated one, although the role of radiative–convective feedback behind this remains unclear.
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hal-03440260 , version 1 (03-12-2021)





Hirohiko Masunaga, Christopher Holloway, Hironari Kanamori, Sandrine Bony, Thorwald Stein. Transient Aggregation of Convection: Observed Behavior and Underlying Processes. Journal of Climate, 2021, 34 (5), pp.1685-1700. ⟨10.1175/JCLI-D-19-0933.1⟩. ⟨hal-03440260⟩
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