Storm top dynamics
Storm top dynamics and GOES thermal infrared imagery
Satellite derived stormtops can provide a more accurate estimate of
storm top height and trends than radar (especially in VCP-21). As usual, there are a few things to know about estimating storm top height.
Convective cloud tops typically appear as points of relative minima in brightness temperature (imager channels 3, 4, 5 in GOES-8). Most of the time the IR brightness temp (Tb) minima are well correlated with cloud height. But there are some cases where this relationship is not straightforward. This section will discuss how the dynamics of stormtops affect the relationship between Tb minima and cloud top height.
There are three things to consider relating Tb minima to height
- Environmental lapse rate above the equilibrium level.
- Parcel Theta-E
- level of mixing (more on this next page)