by ZAMG, FMI and IM

Common Remarks

Thunderstorms can be seen in the satellite imagery on three scales: Another term commonly used in satellite meteorology is the Mesoscale Convective System (MCS) which forms on a bigger scale and is described in this manual. MCS are usually multi cell storms, but sometimes can also have the appearance of super cell storms.

There are many definitions of MCS in literature. One frequently used definition is: A deep convective system which is considerably larger than an individual thunderstorm; it is often marked by an extensive middle-to-upper tropospheric stratiform anvil cloud several hundred kilometres wide. One special case of MCS is the so-called MCC (Mesoscale Convective Complex), which is a huge quasi-circular MCS that lasts about 10 hours. MCCs are frequent in many parts of the world as the US, South America, Africa, Western Pacific and India, but are relatively rare in Europe, where only an average of around 5 MCC form every warm season. In the chapters discussing convective weather features, conceptual models of two different scales will be studied:

Satellite images are somewhat limited in their ability to detect thunderstorms: while Meteosat 8 images are limited by their spatial resolution, NOAA AVHRR images are limited by their time resolution. A very useful tool for the detection of all thunderstorm types is radar. Consequently a short chapter addressing this topic is introduced (see Key Parameters).