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A Climatology of Precipitating Open-Cell Convection over the Northeast Gulf of Alaska

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  • 1 Department of Earth Sciences, Millersville University, Millersville, Pennsylvania
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Abstract

This brief paper addresses the frequency of precipitating open-cell convection over the northeastern Gulf of Alaska during a 5-yr period (2002–06). The research employs 154 previously documented satellite synthetic aperture radar–derived wind speed (SDWS) images that contain open-cell convection signatures. Each SDWS image is paired with a near-in-time, National Weather Service Weather Surveillance Radar-1988 Doppler Level-III 0.5°-elevation-angle short-range base reflectivity image from coastal Alaska for which coverage spatially overlaps open-cell convection signatures. The time difference between any two images of a single pair is typically a few minutes or less. For 65% of the image pairs, at least one SDWS open-cell convection signature in the overlap region is associated with precipitation. That percentage may be conservative given the method used in this research. Thus, the results of this research support a suggestion that has been posed in previous studies that the organization of open-cell convection can be controlled by the interaction of the environmental vertical wind shear and precipitation-driven cold pools.

Current affiliation: Department of Meteorology, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania.

Current affiliation: Department of Atmospheric Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas.

Corresponding author address: Todd D. Sikora, Dept. of Earth Sciences, P.O. Box 1002, Millersville University, Millersville, PA 17551. E-mail: todd.sikora@millersville.edu

Abstract

This brief paper addresses the frequency of precipitating open-cell convection over the northeastern Gulf of Alaska during a 5-yr period (2002–06). The research employs 154 previously documented satellite synthetic aperture radar–derived wind speed (SDWS) images that contain open-cell convection signatures. Each SDWS image is paired with a near-in-time, National Weather Service Weather Surveillance Radar-1988 Doppler Level-III 0.5°-elevation-angle short-range base reflectivity image from coastal Alaska for which coverage spatially overlaps open-cell convection signatures. The time difference between any two images of a single pair is typically a few minutes or less. For 65% of the image pairs, at least one SDWS open-cell convection signature in the overlap region is associated with precipitation. That percentage may be conservative given the method used in this research. Thus, the results of this research support a suggestion that has been posed in previous studies that the organization of open-cell convection can be controlled by the interaction of the environmental vertical wind shear and precipitation-driven cold pools.

Current affiliation: Department of Meteorology, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania.

Current affiliation: Department of Atmospheric Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas.

Corresponding author address: Todd D. Sikora, Dept. of Earth Sciences, P.O. Box 1002, Millersville University, Millersville, PA 17551. E-mail: todd.sikora@millersville.edu
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