Cloud structure and distributions over the tropical Pacific Ocean

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Malkus, Joanne S. ; Riehl, Herbert (2011)

During the summer of 1957 photographic cloud reconnaissance was carried out over the tropical Pacific Ocean, in order to observe tropical convection far from land influences, to relate the distribution of convective clouds to synoptic weather patterns and to analyze structure and street orientation of the cumuli. While all results, excepting photographic measurements, are qualitative, the following conclusions were obtained: 1. Areas with enhanced and with suppressed convection largely were determined by the synoptic situation, especially in the high troposphere. 2. Qualitatively, intensity of convection over large areas, say 105 km2, could be deduced from application of the baroclinic vorticity theorem to high- and low-tropospheric flow. 3. Precipitation virtually was restricted to areas with synoptic build-up of the moist layer. Little, if any, precipitation fell from cumuli outside such zones, although maximum cloud height exceeded 10,000 feet frequently. 4. For the most part, cumuli were aligned in streets. Trade wind clouds were lined up along the wind in the lower moist layer, where wind and shear have the same orientation. Orientation of cloud rows at large angles to the low-level wind also was observed with lesser frequency, mainly when tall clouds extended into a mid-tropospheric layer with marked shear deviating from the wind direction.DOI: 10.1111/j.2153-3490.1964.tb00167.x
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