Characterisation of the observed diurnal cycle of precipitation over the Maritime Continent

Jack Mustafa, Adrian Matthews, Rob Hall, Karen Heywood, Marina Do Valle Chagas Azaneu

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This study investigates the temporal and spatial complexities of the mean diurnal cycle (DC) of precipitation over the Maritime Continent during the wet season using the IMERG data product, and highlights systematic inaccuracies of amplitude and phase representation using the first diurnal harmonic (FDH). The first-order nature of the DC of precipitation is already well documented, typically featuring heavy precipitation over near-coastal land areas in the late afternoon and evening followed by maximum precipitation overnight over the surrounding seas, with offshore propagation evident in places. The DC is often concisely described in terms of an amplitude and phase based on the FDH parameters, however the omission of higher-order components of variability results in the FDH parameters being poor indicators of the magnitude and peak time of diurnal variability in many locations. This study improves the accuracy of the amplitude and phase parameters by characterising the DC using two novel waveforms - a skew-permitting waveform and a spike-permitting waveform - which are constructed to more accurately characterise single-peak cycles with rapid transitions. Key characterisation improvements include correction of a phase lag (averaging about one hour) over near-coastal land areas and capture of the short-lasting but extreme peak in precipitation rate over Java which increases the amplitude by the order of 20%. The new skew parameter shows that locations close to coastlines experience rapid intensification and gradual weakening of diurnal precipitation while there is a tendency toward gradual intensification and rapid weakening far inland and offshore. The new spike parameter shows that near-coastal land experiences a brief and precisely timed peak in precipitation, whereas diurnal activity over inland locations is less precisely timed, and waters surrounding Java experience a precisely timed suppression of precipitation. Other potential applications of the novel waveforms used in this study are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
JournalQuarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 5 Mar 2024

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