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Advances in Meteorology
Volume 2016, Article ID 3192765, 15 pages
Research Article

Rainfall and Cloud Dynamics in the Andes: A Southern Ecuador Case Study

1Departamento de Recursos Hídricos y Ciencias Ambientales, Universidad de Cuenca, 10150 Cuenca, Ecuador
2Facultad de Ingeniería, Universidad de Cuenca, Avenida 12 de Abril s/n, 10150 Cuenca, Ecuador
3Laboratory for Climatology and Remote Sensing (LCRS), Faculty of Geography, University of Marburg, Deutschhausstraße 10, 35032 Marburg, Germany
4Facultad de Ciencias Agropecuarias, Universidad de Cuenca, Avenida 12 de Abril s/n, 10150 Cuenca, Ecuador

Received 11 November 2015; Revised 19 December 2015; Accepted 20 December 2015

Academic Editor: Charles Jones

Copyright © 2016 Lenin Campozano et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Mountain regions worldwide present a pronounced spatiotemporal precipitation variability, which added to scarce monitoring networks limits our understanding of the generation processes involved. To improve our understanding of clouds and precipitation dynamics and cross-scale generation processes in mountain regions, we analyzed spatiotemporal rainfall patterns using satellite cloud products (SCP) in the Paute basin (900–4200 m a.s.l. and 6481 km2) in the Andes of Ecuador. Precipitation models, using SCP and GIS data, reveal the spatial extension of three regimes: a three-modal (TM) regime present across the basin, a bimodal (BM) regime, along sheltered valleys, and a unimodal (UM) regime at windward slopes of the eastern cordillera. Subsequently, the spatiotemporal analysis using synoptic information shows that the dry season of the BM regime during boreal summer is caused by strong subsidence inhibiting convective clouds formation. Meanwhile, in UM regions, low advective shallow cap clouds mainly cause precipitation, influenced by water vapor from the Amazon and enhanced easterlies during boreal summer. TM regions are transition zones from UM to BM and zones on the windward slopes of the western cordillera. These results highlight the suitability of satellite and GIS data-driven statistical models to study spatiotemporal rainfall seasonality and generation processes in complex terrain, as the Andes.