Latent Heating from TRMM Satellite Measurements

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Thursday, 27 January 2011
Latent Heating from TRMM Satellite Measurements
Washington State Convention Center
Wei-Kuo Tao, NASA/GSFC, Greenbelt, MD; and Y. N. Takayabu, S. Shige, W. S. Olson, and S. E. Lang

Rainfall production is a fundamental process within the Earth's hydrological cycle because it represents both a principal forcing term in surface water budgets, and its energetics corollary, latent heating, is the principal source of atmospheric diabatic heating. Latent heat release itself is a consequence of phase changes between the vapor, liquid, and frozen states of water. The properties of the vertical distribution of latent heat release modulate large-scale meridional and zonal circulations within the Tropics - as well as modify the energetic efficiencies of mid-latitude weather systems. This paper highlights the retrieval of latent heat release from satellite measurements generated by the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite observatory, which was launched in November 1997 as a joint American-Japanese space endeavor. Since then, TRMM measurements have been providing an accurate four-dimensional account of rainfall over the global Tropics and sub-tropics - information which can be used to estimate the space-time structure of latent heating across the Earth's low latitudes.

A set of algorithm methodologies has been developed to estimate latent heating based on rain rate profile retrievals obtained from TRMM measurements. These algorithms are briefly described followed by a discussion of the foremost latent heating products that can be generated from them. The investigation then provides an overview of how TRMM-derived latent heating information is currently being used in conjunction with global weather and climate models, concluding with remarks intended to stimulate further research on latent heating retrieval from satellites.