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Applied Aviation Sciences

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The global convective diagnostic (GCD) is a bispectral (infrared and water vapor), day–night scheme for operationally mapping deep convection by means of geostationary satellite images. This article describes a test of GCD performance over tropical and subtropical waters near North America. The test consists of six cases, each involving a convective cloud complex. A seventh case treats convection over land. For each case, a map of deep convection was constructed from image pairs from Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-12 (GOES-12). Case by case and for all maritime cases together, the GCD map was compared with a convective parameter derived from the radar on the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM), a polar-orbiting satellite. In general, each GCD map showed a bloblike feature. In each case, the radar convective pixels typically fell within the GCD blob. However, (except for the land case) the GCD predicted far too many convective pixels. In the maritime cases overprediction was reduced (without correspondingly impairing other measures of performance) by lowering the nominal GCD threshold. With this adjustment in place, for the six maritime cases taken individually, the GCD tended to yield more consistent results than did a monospectral (infrared) convective scheme. With the cases combined, at the lower threshold the GCD performed somewhat better than one of the more stable versions of the infrared scheme. Comparison with lightning events (also observed by TRMM) suggests the possibility of future improvement to the GCD through the incorporation of geostationary satellite observations of lightning.

Publication Title

Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology



American Meteorological Society

Additional Information

This article was also presented as a poster at the 13th Conference on Satellite Meteorology and Oceanography held in Norfolk, VA, from September 20-23, 2004, sponsored by the American Meteorological Society.

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© Copyright 2008 American Meteorological Society (AMS). Permission to use figures, tables, and brief excerpts from this work in scientific and educational works is hereby granted provided that the source is acknowledged. Any use of material in this work that is determined to be “fair use” under Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Act September 2010 Page 2 or that satisfies the conditions specified in Section 108 of the U.S. Copyright Act (17 USC §108, as revised by P.L. 94-553) does not require the AMS’s permission. Republication, systematic reproduction, posting in electronic form, such as on a web site or in a searchable database, or other uses of this material, except as exempted by the above statement, requires written permission or a license from the AMS. Additional details are provided in the AMS Copyright Policy, available on the AMS Web site located at ( or from the AMS at 617-227-2425 or