Intensification of convective rain cells at warmer temperatures observed from high-resolution weather radar data

Nadav Peleg*, Francesco Marra, Simone Fatichi, Peter Molnar, Efrat Morin, Ashish Sharma, Paolo Burlando

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


This study contributes to the understanding of the relationship between air temperature and convection by analyzing the characteristics of rainfall at the storm and convective rain cell scales. High spatial-temporal resolution (1 km, 5 min) estimates from a uniquely long weather radar record (24 years) were coupled with near-surface air temperature over Mediterranean and semiarid regions in the eastern Mediterranean. In the examined temperature range (5°-25°C), the peak intensity of individual convective rain cells was found to increase with temperature, but at a lower rate than the 7%°C-1 scaling expected from the Clausius-Clapeyron relation, while the area of the individual convective rain cells slightly decreases or, at most, remains unchanged. At the storm scale, the areal convective rainfall was found to increase with warmer temperatures, whereas the areal nonconvective rainfall and the stormwide area decrease. This suggests an enhanced moisture convergence from the stormwide extent toward the convective rain cells. Results indicate a reduction in the total rainfall amounts and an increased heterogeneity of the spatial structure of the storm rainfall for temperatures increasing up to 25°C. Thermodynamic conditions, analyzed using convective available potential energy, were determined to be similar between Mediterranean and semiarid regions. Limitations in the atmospheric moisture availability when shifting from Mediterranean to semiarid climates were detected and explain the suppression of the intensity of the convective rain cells when moving toward drier regions. The relationships obtained in this study are relevant for nearby regions characterized by Mediterranean and semiarid climates.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)715-726
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Hydrometeorology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments. The study was funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (International Short Visits, project IZK0Z2_173679), by the Lady Davis Fellowship Trust (project: RainFreq) and by the Israel Science Foundation (Grant 1007/15). The authors thank E.M.S. (Mekorot Company) for the radar data and the Israel Meteorology Service for the temperature data. The authors gratefully acknowledge the useful discussions with Maya Bartov.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 American Meteorological Society.


  • Convective-scale processes
  • Extreme events
  • Radars/Radar observations
  • Rainfall
  • Small scale processes
  • Temperature


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