The Masunaga Research Group
Institute for Space-Earth Environmental Research

Cloud images as seen in geostationary satellite imagery show that a seemingly chaotic movement of clouds has some organized structure. Bubbling cloud clusters keep emerging and submerging near the equator in its north, lined up from east to west. Also observed are tropical cyclones traveling north as they grow in scale, and extratropical cyclones slowly moving east across Japan. What are the mechanisms that control these patterns?

While precipitation brings water beneficial to life on the Earth, it occasionally causes catastrophic disaster. Severe storms generated in the Tropics, however, are crucial for dynamically maintaining atmospheric circulation which helps transport heat to higher latitudes. Clouds directly influence the radiative energy that the Earth could receive from the Sun, and at the same time they can promote the greenhouse effect of the atmosphere by redistributing thermal infrared radiation. Clouds and precipitation are not only closely linked to the interests of our society, but also a critical element of global climate variability.

The goal of our research is to further understand the physical mechanism governing the interaction between global climate and cloud/precipitation systems. We study the dynamics of clouds and precipitation as an element of large-scale atmospheric circulation.

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