Articles | Volume 10, issue 10
18 May 2010
 | 18 May 2010

A climatological perspective of deep convection penetrating the TTL during the Indian summer monsoon from the AVHRR and MODIS instruments

A. Devasthale and S. Fueglistaler

Abstract. The impact of very deep convection on the water budget and thermal structure of the tropical tropopause layer is still not well quantified, not least because of limitations imposed by the available observation techniques. Here, we present detailed analysis of the climatology of the cloud top brightness temperatures as indicators of deep convection during the Indian summer monsoon, and the variations therein due to active and break periods. We make use of the recently newly processed data from the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) at a nominal spatial resolution of 4 km. Using temperature thresholds from the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS), the AVHRR brightness temperatures are converted to climatological mean (2003–2008) maps of cloud amounts at 200, 150 and 100 hPa. Further, we relate the brightness temperatures to the level of zero radiative heating, which may allow a coarse identification of convective detrainment that will subsequently ascend into the stratosphere. The AVHRR data for the period 1982–2006 are used to document the differences in deep convection between active and break conditions of the monsoon. The analysis of AVHRR data is complemented with cloud top pressure and optical depth statistics (for the period 2003–2008) from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) onboard Aqua satellite. Generally, the two sensors provide a very similar description of deep convective clouds.

Our analysis shows that most of the deep convection occurs over the Bay of Bengal and central northeast India. Very deep convection over the Tibetan plateau is comparatively weak, and may play only a secondary role in troposphere-to-stratosphere transport. The deep convection over the Indian monsoon region is most frequent in July/August, but the very highest convection (coldest tops, penetrating well into the TTL) occurs in May/June. Large variability in convection reaching the TTL is due to monsoon break/active periods. During the monsoon break period, deep convection reaching the TTL is almost entirely absent in the western part of the study area (i.e. 60 E–75 E), while the distribution over the Bay of Bengal and the Tibetan Plateau is less affected. Although the active conditions occur less frequently than the break conditions, they may have a larger bearing on the composition of the TTL within the monsoonal anticyclone, and tracer transport into the stratosphere because of deep convection occurring over anthropogenically more polluted regions.

Final-revised paper