The diurnal cycle in the tropics
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1175/1520-0493(2001)129<0784:TDCITT>2.0.CO;2
A global archive of high-resolution (3-hourly, 0.58 latitude–longitude grid) window (11–12 mm) brightness temperature (Tb) data from multiple satellites is being developed by the European Union Cloud Archive User Service (CLAUS) project. It has been used to construct a climatology of the diurnal cycle in convection, cloudiness, and surface temperature for all regions of the Tropics. An example of the application of the climatology to the evaluation of the climate version of the U.K. Met. Office Unified Model (UM), version HadAM3, is presented. The characteristics of the diurnal cycle described by the CLAUS data agree with previous observational studies, demonstrating the universality of the characteristics of the diurnal cycle for land versus ocean, clear sky versus convective regimes. It is shown that oceanic deep convection tends to reach its maximum in the early morning. Continental convection generally peaks in the evening, although there are interesting regional variations, indicative of the effects of complex land–sea and mountain–valley breezes, as well as the life cycle of mesoscale convective systems. A striking result from the analysis of the CLAUS data has been the extent to which the strong diurnal signal over land is spread out over the adjacent oceans, probably through gravity waves of varying depths. These coherent signals can be seen for several hundred kilometers and in some instances, such as over the Bay of Bengal, can lead to substantial diurnal variations in convection and precipitation. The example of the use of the CLAUS data in the evaluation of the Met. Office UM has demonstrated that the model has considerable difficulty in capturing the observed phase of the diurnal cycle in convection, which suggests some fundamental difficulties in the model’s physical parameterizations. Analysis of the diurnal cycle represents a powerful tool for identifying and correcting model deficiencies.