Li, Wei (2011-02). A Climatology of Tropical Anvil and Its Relationship to the Large-Scale Circulation. Doctoral Dissertation. Thesis uri icon


  • This dissertation uses multiple tools to investigate tropical anvil, i.e., thick, non-precipitating cloud associated with deep convection with the main objectives to provide a climatology of tropics-wide anvil properties and a better understanding of anvil formation, and to provide a more realistic assessment of the radiative impact of tropical anvil on the large-scale circulation. Based on 10 years (1998-2007) of observations, anvil observed by the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) Precipitation (PR) shows significant geographical variations, which can be linked to variations in the parent convection. Strong upper level wind shear appears to assist the generation of anvil and may further explain the different anvil statistics over land and ocean. Variations in the large-scale environment appear to play a more important role in anvil production in regions where convection regularly attains heights greater than 7 km. For regions where convection is less deep, variations in the depth of the convection and the large-scale environment likely contribute more equally to anvil generation. Anvil radiative heating profiles are estimated by extrapolating millimeter cloud radar (MMCR) radiative properties from Manus to the 10-year TRMM PR record. When the unconditional anvil areal coverage is taken into account, the anvil radiative heating becomes quite weak, increasing the PR latent heating profile by less than 1 percent at mid and upper levels. Stratiform rain and cirrus radiative heating contributions increase the upper level latent heating by 12 percent. This tropical radiative heating only slightly enhances the latent heating driven model response throughout the tropics, but more significantly over the East Pacific. These modest circulation changes suggest that previous studies may have overemphasized the importance of radiative heating in terms of Walker and Hadley circulation variations. Further, the relationship of cloud radiative heating to latent heating needs to be taken into account for more realistic studies of cloud radiative forcing on the large-scale circulation.

publication date

  • December 2009