The role of shallow cloud moistening in MJO and Non-MJO convective events over the ARM manus site

David M. Zermeño-Díaz, Chidong Zhang, Pavlos Kollias, Heike Kalesse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Observations from the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Program (ARM) site at Manus Island in the western Pacific and (re)analysis products are used to investigate moistening by shallow cumulus clouds and by the circulation in large-scale convective events. Large-scale convective events are defined as rainfall anomalies larger than one standard deviation for a minimum of three consecutive days over a 10° × 10° domain centered at Manus. These events are categorized into two groups: Madden-Julian oscillation (MJO) events, with eastward propagation, and non-MJO events, without propagation. Shallow cumulus clouds are identified as continuous time-height echoes from 1-min cloud radar observations with their tops below the freezing level and their bases within the boundary layer. Daily moistening tendencies of shallow clouds, estimated from differences between their mean liquid water content and precipitation over their presumed life spans, and those of physical processes and advection from (re)analysis products are compared with local moistening tendencies from soundings. Increases in low-level moisture before rainfall peaks of MJO and non-MJO events are evident in both observations and reanalyses. Before and after the rainfall peaks of these events, precipitating and nonprecipitating shallow clouds exist all the time, but their occurrence fluctuates randomly. Their contributions to moisture tendencies through evaporation of condensed water are evident. These clouds provide perpetual background moistening to the lower troposphere but do not cause the observed increase in low-level moisture leading to rainfall peaks. Such moisture increase is mainly caused by anomalous nonlinear zonal advection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4797-4820
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of the Atmospheric Sciences
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015


  • Atm/Ocean Structure/ Phenomena
  • Clouds
  • Cumulus clouds
  • Madden-Julian oscillation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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