AbstractWater vapor has a strong influence on the evolution of heavy precipitation events due to the huge latent heat associated with the phase change process of water. Accurate monitoring of atmospheric water vapor distribution is thus essential in predicting the severity and lifecycle of heavy rain. This paper presents a systematic study on the application of tomographic solutions to investigate water vapor variations during heavy precipitation events. Using Global Positioning System (GPS) observations, the wet refractivity field was constructed at a temporal resolution of 30 mins for three heavy precipitation events occurring in Hong Kong in 2010-2014. The zenith wet delay (ZWD) is shown to be a good indicator in observing the water vapor evolution in heavy rain events. The variabilities of water vapor at five altitude layers (<1000 m, 1000~2000 m, 2000~3000 m, 3000~5000 m, and >5000 m) were examined. It revealed that water vapor above 3000 m has larger fluctuation than that under 3000 m, though it accounts for only 10~25% of the total amount of water vapor. The relative humidity fields derived from tomographic results revealed moisture variation, accumulation, saturation and condensation during the heavy rain events. The water vapor variabilities observed by tomography have been validated using ECMWF (European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts) reanalysis and radiosonde data. The results positively demonstrated the potential of using water vapor tomographic technique in detecting and monitoring the evolution of heavy rain events.
Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology – American Meteorological Society
Published: Mar 15, 2017
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