Estimates of tropical diabatic heating profiles: Commonalities and uncertainties

Samson Hagos, Chidong Zhang, Wei Kuo Tao, Steve Lang, Yukari N. Takayabu, Shoichi Shige, Masaki Katsumata, Bill Olson, Tristan L'ecuyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


This study aims to evaluate the consistency and discrepancies in estimates of diabatic heating profiles associated with precipitation based on satellite observations and microphysics and those derived from the thermodynamics of the large-scale environment. It presents a survey of diabatic heating profile estimates from four Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) products, four global reanalyses, and in situ sounding measurements from eight field campaigns at various tropical locations. Common in most of the estimates are the following: (i) bottom-heavy profiles, ubiquitous over the oceans, are associated with relatively low rain rates, while top-heavy profiles are generally associated with high rain rates; (ii) temporal variability of latent heating profiles is dominated by two modes, a deep mode with a peak in the upper troposphere and a shallow mode with a low-level peak; and (iii) the structure of the deep modes is almost the same in different estimates and different regions in the tropics. The primary uncertainty is in the amount of shallow heating over the tropical oceans, which differs substantially among the estimates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)542-558
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Climate
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 2010
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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