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Wavelet analysis of properties of marine boundary layer mesoscale cells observed from AMSR-E
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  • Xiaoli Zhou,
  • Christopher S. Bretherton,
  • Ryan M Eastman,
  • Isabel L. McCoy,
  • Robert Wood
Xiaoli Zhou
NOAA Chemical Sciences Laboratory

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Christopher S. Bretherton
University of Washington
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Ryan M Eastman
U of Washington
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Isabel L. McCoy
University of Washington
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Robert Wood
University of Washington
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Marine boundary layer clouds tend to organize into closed or open mesoscale cellular convection (MCC). Here, two-dimensional wavelet analysis is applied for the first time to passive microwave retrievals of cloud water path (CWP), water vapor path (WVP), and rain rate from AMSR-E in 2008 over the Northeast and Southeast Pacific, and the Southeast Atlantic subtropical stratocumulus to cumulus transition regions. The (co-)variability between CWP, WVP, and rain rate in 160x160 km2 analysis boxes is partitioned between four mesoscale wavelength octaves (20, 40, 80, and 160 km). The cell scale is identified as the wavelength of the peak CWP variance. Together with a machine-learning classification of cell type, this allows the statistical characteristics of open and closed MCC of various scales, and its relation to WVP, rain rate and potential environmental controlling factors to be analyzed across a very large set of cases.
The results show that the cell wavelength is most commonly 40-80 km. Cell-scale CWP perturbations are good predictors of the WVP and rain rate perturbations. A universal cubic dependence of rain rate on CWP is found in closed and open cells of all scales. This suggests that aerosol control on precipitation susceptibility is not as important for open cell formation as are processes that cause increases in cloud water. For cells larger than 20 km, there is no obvious dependence of cell scale on the environmental controlling factors tested, suggesting that the cell scale may depend more on its historical evolution than the current environmental conditions.