ISSN 2070-7401 (Print), ISSN 2411-0280 (Online)
Sovremennye problemy distantsionnogo zondirovaniya Zemli iz kosmosa


Sovremennye problemy distantsionnogo zondirovaniya Zemli iz kosmosa, 2019, Vol. 16, No. 1, pp. 223-236

Identification of mesoscale convective cloud systems with tornadoes using satellite data

A.N. Shikhov 1 , A.V. Chernokulsky 2 , A.A. Sprygin 3 , I.O. Azhigov 1 
1 Perm State University, Perm, Russia
2 A.M. Obukhov Institute of Atmospheric Physics RAS, Moscow, Russia
3 Central Aerological Observatory, Dolgoprudnyi, Russia
Accepted: 02.10.2018
DOI: 10.21046/2070-7401-2019-16-1-223-236
The study is carried out to estimate capability of using Meteosat-8 SEVIRI satellite data for the detection of tornado-generating mesoscale convective systems (MCSs) and supercell storms. We consider the cloud top temperature, overshooting tops, cold-rings, and cold U-V shaped features as signatures of tornado formation. The study is performed for 2017–2018, on the example of several tornado outbreaks in the European Russia and Ural region. The tornado events are identified by witness and media reports and by satellite-based analysis of tornado-induced forest damage tracks. For the first time in this region, overlapping of actual tornado tracks with Meteosat-8 images allows to detect the features of MCSs and supercell storms that yielded tornadoes. It is found, that the extremely low cloud top temperature and overshooting tops have a relatively weak correlation with tornado events. Whereas, the cold-rings and cold U-V shaped features are related more tightly with strong tornadoes, and hence can be considered as the signatures of strong mesocyclones. The importance of convective instability conditions is highlighted. Particularly, Meteosat data show good capability to detect tornado-generating MCSs and supercell storms that are formed in the environments with strong convective instability (and strong updrafts). However, the local supercell storms that generate tornadoes in the conditions with weak or moderate convective instability, have no typical signatures on the cloud top. Consequently, their satellite-based detection is difficult.
Keywords: tornado, mesoscale convective system, supercell, Meteosat-8 data, cloud top temperature, overshooting top, cold ring, signature
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