Retrieving Global Wilson Currents from Electrified Clouds using Satellite Passive Microwave Observations

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Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Peterson et al. (2015) developed an algorithm for estimating the electric field vector at any point above an electrified cloud from passive microwave observations. 

The global total TRMM current image
Comparisons between the global total TRMM current retrieved by (a) the Peterson et al. (2015) algorithm with radar data added to represent the vertical extent of the storm, (b) the original Peterson et al. (2015) algorithm, and (c) the satellite feature level first approximation.

The present study constructs versions of the Peterson et al. (2015) algorithm that can be used with a diverse collection of satellite passive microwave datasets. Such satellites provide global coverage for more than three decades, and can be used to monitor long-term variations in the electrified cloud “batteries” for the Global Electric Circuit. Moreover, the intercalibrated passive microwave measurements provided by the 10 member satellites of the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) constellation can be used to create an updated global map of electrified weather every ~3 hours in near real time.

In addition to a direct update of the Peterson et al. (2015) algorithm for satellite passive microwave scan geometries, we also present two variations on the algorithm that respond to anticipated use cases. The first of these uses the coincident Precipitation Radar (PR) data available on the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) and GPM Core Observatory satellites to accurately represent the vertical extent of electrified clouds. The second variation approximates the total Wilson current supplied from a storm based on satellite feature data rather than orbital swath data. It is intended to be a first guess approximation.

Publication Name: Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology

First HAO Author's Name: Michael J. Peterson