Multicellular organized convection capable of producing significant rainfall and strong winds can be inferred from high frequency microwave imagery by large negative brightness temperature anomalies. In regions such as West Africa where there are limited surface observing networks, space-based datasets are central to any analysis of the environments of intense convective systems. Because West Africa was identified as a hotspot of intense organized convection in the global survey of Zipser et al. (2006), an improved understanding of the environments most likely to allow strong convection to develop and organize is of great interest to the forecasters and farmers in the region. This study focused on the pre-storm local and regional thermodynamical and dynamical environments of intense convective systems in the major climate zones of West Africa.
The study methodology used TRMM brightness temperature products, MODIS aerosol optical depth products, ECMWF operational analysis, and available radiosoundings to compare the conditions producing both intense and non-intense events in 2003.