A high-resolution unified observational data product of mesoscale convective systems and isolated deep convection in the United States for 2004–2017

Li, Jianfeng; Feng, Zhe; Qian, Yun; Leung, L. Ruby

Deep convection possesses markedly distinct properties at different spatiotemporal scales. We present an original high-resolution (4 km, hourly) unified data product of mesoscale convective systems (MCSs) and isolated deep convection (IDC) in the United States east of the Rocky Mountains and examine their climatological characteristics from 2004 to 2017. The data product is produced by applying an updated Flexible Object Tracker algorithm to hourly satellite brightness temperature, radar reflectivity, and precipitation datasets. Analysis of the data product shows that MCSs are much larger and longer-lasting than IDC, but IDC occurs about 100 times more frequently than MCSs, with a mean convective intensity comparable to that of MCSs. Hence both MCS and IDC are essential contributors to precipitation east of the Rocky Mountains, although their precipitation shows significantly different spatiotemporal characteristics. IDC precipitation concentrates in summer in the Southeast with a peak in the late afternoon, while MCS precipitation is significant in all seasons, especially for spring and summer in the Great Plains. The spatial distribution of MCS precipitation amounts varies by season, while diurnally, MCS precipitation generally peaks during nighttime except in the Southeast. Potential uncertainties and limitations of the data product are also discussed. The data product is useful for investigating the atmospheric environments and physical processes associated with different types of convective systems; quantifying the impacts of convection on hydrology, atmospheric chemistry, and severe weather events; and evaluating and improving the representation of convective processes in weather and climate models. The data product is available at https://doi.org/10.25584/1632005https://doi.org/10.25584/1632005 (Li et al., 2020).

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Li, Jianfeng / Feng, Zhe / Qian, Yun / et al: A high-resolution unified observational data product of mesoscale convective systems and isolated deep convection in the United States for 2004–2017. 2021. Copernicus Publications.

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