2020 Volume 98 Issue 5 Pages 901-914
This study compares the regional characteristics of heavy rain clouds in terms of Cloud Top Height (CTH) and Storm Height (SH) from long-term Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) observations. The SH is derived from Precipitation Radar reflectivity, and the CTH is estimated, using visible and infrared scanner brightness temperature (10.8 µm) and reanalysis temperature profiles. As the rain rate increases, the average CTH and average SH increase, but by different degrees in different regions. Heavy rainfall in continental rainfall regimes, such as Central Africa and the United States, is characterized by high SH, in contrast to oceanic rainfall regions, such as the northwestern Pacific, Korea, and Japan; the increased atmospheric instability in dry environments is interpreted as a continental flood mechanism. Conversely, heavy rain events in Korea and Japan occur in a thermodynamically near-neutral environment with large amounts of water vapor, which are characterized by the lowest CTH, SH, and ice water content. The northwestern Pacific exhibits the lowest SH in humid environments, similar to Korea and Japan; however, this region also characteristically exhibits the highest convective instability condition, as well as high CTH and CTH–SH values, in contrast to Korea and Japan. The observed CTH and SH characteristics of heavy rain clouds should be useful for evaluating and improving satellite-based precipitation estimates and numerical model cloud parameterization.