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Robert Conrick
and
Clifford F. Mass

Abstract

The OLYMPEX field campaign, which took place around the Olympic Mountains of Washington State during winter 2015/16, provided data for evaluating the simulated microphysics and precipitation over and near that barrier. Using OLYMPEX observations, this paper assesses precipitation and associated microphysics in the WRF-ARW model over the U.S. Pacific Northwest. Model precipitation from the University of Washington real-time WRF forecast system during the OLYMPEX field program (November 2015–February 2016) and an extended period (2008–18) showed persistent underprediction of precipitation, reaching 100 mm yr−1 over the windward side of the coastal terrain. Increasing horizontal resolution does not substantially reduce this underprediction. Evaluating surface disdrometer observations during the 2015/16 OLYMPEX winter, it was found that the operational University of Washington WRF modeling system using Thompson microphysics poorly simulated the rain drop size distribution over a windward coastal valley. Although liquid water content was represented realistically, drop diameters were overpredicted, and, consequently, the rain drop distribution intercept parameter was underpredicted. During two heavy precipitation periods, WRF realistically simulated environmental conditions, including wind speed, thermodynamic structures, integrated moisture transport, and melting levels. Several microphysical parameterization schemes were tested in addition to the Thompson scheme, with each exhibiting similar biases for these two events. We show that the parameterization of aerosols over the coastal Northwest offered only minor improvement.

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Joseph P. Zagrodnik
,
Lynn A. McMurdie
,
Robert A. Houze Jr.
, and
Simone Tanelli

Abstract

As midlatitude cyclones pass over a coastal mountain range, the processes producing their clouds and precipitation are modified, leading to considerable spatial variability in precipitation amount and composition. Statistical diagrams of airborne precipitation radar transects, surface precipitation measurements, and particle size distributions are examined from nine cases observed during the Olympic Mountains Experiment (OLYMPEX). Although the pattern of windward enhancement and leeside diminishment of precipitation was omnipresent, the degree of modulation was largely controlled by the synoptic environment associated with the prefrontal, warm, and postfrontal sectors of midlatitude cyclones. Prefrontal sectors contained homogeneous stratiform precipitation with a slightly enhanced ice layer on the windward slopes and rapid diminishment to a near-complete rain shadow in the lee. Warm sectors contained deep, intense enhancement over both the windward slopes and high terrain and less prominent rain shadows owing to downstream spillover of ice particles generated over terrain. Surface particle size distributions in the warm sector contained a broad spectrum of sizes and concentrations of raindrops on the lower windward side where high precipitation rates were achieved from varying degrees of both liquid and ice precipitation-generating processes. Spillover precipitation was rather homogeneous in nature and lacked the undulations in particle size and concentration that occurred at the windward sites. Postfrontal precipitation transitioned from isolated convective cells over ocean to a shallow, mixed convective–stratiform composition with broader coverage and greater precipitation rates over the sloping terrain.

Open access
Robert Conrick
and
Clifford F. Mass

Abstract

This study evaluates moist physics in the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model using observations collected during the Olympic Mountains Experiment (OLYMPEX) field campaign by the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) satellite, including data from the GPM Microwave Imager (GMI) and Dual-Frequency Precipitation Radar (DPR) instruments. Even though WRF using Thompson et al. microphysics was able to realistically simulate water vapor concentrations approaching the barrier, there was underprediction of cloud water content and rain rates offshore and over western slopes of terrain. We showed that underprediction of rain rate occurred when cloud water was underpredicted, establishing a connection between cloud water and rain-rate deficits. Evaluations of vertical hydrometeor mixing ratio profiles indicated that WRF produced too little cloud water and rainwater content, particularly below 2.5 km, with excessive snow above this altitude. Simulated mixing ratio profiles were less influenced by coastal proximity or midlatitude storm sector than were GMI profiles. Evaluations of different synoptic storm sectors suggested that postfrontal storm sectors were simulated most realistically, while warm sectors had the largest errors. DPR observations confirm the underprediction of rain rates noted by GMI, with no dependence on whether rain occurs over land or water. Finally, WRF underpredicted radar reflectivity below 2 km and overpredicted above 2 km, consistent with GMI vertical mixing ratio profiles.

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Minda Le
and
V. Chandrasekar

Abstract

Extensive evaluations have been performed on the dual-frequency classification module in the Global Precipitation Mission (GPM) Dual-Frequency Precipitation Radar (DPR) level-2 algorithm. Both rain type classification and melting-layer detection continue to show promising results in the validations. Surface snowfall identification is a feature newly added in the classification module to the recently released version to provide a surface snowfall flag for each qualified vertical profile. This algorithm is developed upon vertical features of Ku- and Ka-band reflectivity and dual-frequency ratio from DPR. In this paper, we validate this surface snowfall identification algorithm with ground radars including NEXRAD, NASA Polarimetric Radar (NPOL), and CSU–CHILL radar during concurrent precipitation events and GPM validation campaign Olympic Mountain Experiment (OLYMPEX). Other ground truth such as Precipitation Imaging Package (PIP) and ground report is also included in the validation. Based on 16 validation cases in the years 2014–18, the average match ratio between surface snowfall flag from space radar and ground radar is around 87.8%. Promising agreements are achieved with different validation sources. Algorithm limitation and potential improvement are discussed.

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Zeinab Takbiri
,
Ardeshir Ebtehaj
,
Efi Foufoula-Georgiou
,
Pierre-Emmanuel Kirstetter
, and
F. Joseph Turk

Abstract

Monitoring changes of precipitation phase from space is important for understanding the mass balance of Earth’s cryosphere in a changing climate. This paper examines a Bayesian nearest neighbor approach for prognostic detection of precipitation and its phase using passive microwave observations from the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) satellite. The method uses the weighted Euclidean distance metric to search through an a priori database populated with coincident GPM radiometer and radar observations as well as ancillary snow-cover data. The algorithm performance is evaluated using data from GPM official precipitation products, ground-based radars, and high-fidelity simulations from the Weather Research and Forecasting Model. Using the presented approach, we demonstrate that the hit probability of terrestrial precipitation detection can reach to 0.80, while the probability of false alarm remains below 0.11. The algorithm demonstrates higher skill in detecting snowfall than rainfall, on average by 10%. In particular, the probability of precipitation detection and its solid phase increases by 11% and 8%, over dry snow cover, when compared to other surface types. The main reason is found to be related to the ability of the algorithm in capturing the signal of increased liquid water content in snowy clouds over radiometrically cold snow-covered surfaces.

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Mircea Grecu
,
Lin Tian
,
Gerald M. Heymsfield
,
Ali Tokay
,
William S. Olson
,
Andrew J. Heymsfield
, and
Aaron Bansemer

Abstract

In this study, a nonparametric method to estimate precipitating ice from multiple-frequency radar observations is investigated. The method does not require any assumptions regarding the distribution of ice particle sizes and relies on an efficient search procedure to incorporate information from observed particle size distributions (PSDs) in the estimation process. Similar to other approaches rooted in optimal-estimation theory, the nonparametric method is robust in the presence of noise in observations and uncertainties in the forward models. Over 200 000 PSDs derived from in situ observations collected during the Olympic Mountains Experiment (OLYMPEX) and Integrated Precipitation and Hydrology Experiment (IPHEX) field campaigns are used in the development and evaluation of the nonparametric estimation method. These PSDs are used to create a database of ice-related variables and associated computed radar reflectivity factors at the Ku, Ka, and W bands. The computed reflectivity factors are used to derive precipitating ice estimates and investigate the associated errors and uncertainties. The method is applied to triple-frequency radar observations collected during OLYMPEX and IPHEX. Direct comparisons of estimated ice variables with estimates from in situ instruments show results consistent with the error analysis. Global application of the method requires an extension of the supporting PSD database, which can be achieved through the processing of information from additional past and future field campaigns.

Open access
Hannah C. Barnes
,
Joseph P. Zagrodnik
,
Lynn A. McMurdie
,
Angela K. Rowe
, and
Robert A. Houze Jr.

Abstract

This study examines Kelvin–Helmholtz (KH) waves observed by dual-polarization radar in several precipitating midlatitude cyclones during the Olympic Mountains Experiment (OLYMPEX) field campaign along the windward side of the Olympic Mountains in Washington State and in a strong stationary frontal zone in Iowa during the Iowa Flood Studies (IFloodS) field campaign. While KH waves develop regardless of the presence or absence of mountainous terrain, this study indicates that the large-scale flow can be modified when encountering a mountain range in such a way as to promote development of KH waves on the windward side and to alter their physical structure (i.e., orientation and amplitude). OLYMPEX sampled numerous instances of KH waves in precipitating clouds, and this study examines their effects on microphysical processes above, near, and below the melting layer. The dual-polarization radar data indicate that KH waves above the melting layer promote aggregation. KH waves centered in the melting layer produce the most notable signatures in dual-polarization variables, with the patterns suggesting that the KH waves promote both riming and aggregation. Both above and near the melting layer ice particles show no preferred orientation likely because of tumbling in turbulent air motions. KH waves below the melting layer facilitate the generation of large drops via coalescence and/or vapor deposition, increasing mean drop size and rain rate by only slight amounts in the OLYMPEX storms.

Open access
Bin Pei
and
Firat Y. Testik

Abstract

In this study a new radar rainfall estimation algorithm—rainfall estimation using simulated raindrop size distributions (RESID)—was developed. This algorithm development was based upon the recent finding that measured and simulated raindrop size distributions (DSDs) with matching triplets of dual-polarization radar observables (i.e., horizontal reflectivity, differential reflectivity, and specific differential phase) produce similar rain rates. The RESID algorithm utilizes a large database of simulated gamma DSDs, theoretical rain rates calculated from the simulated DSDs, the corresponding dual-polarization radar observables, and a set of cost functions. The cost functions were developed using both the measured and simulated dual-polarization radar observables. For a given triplet of measured radar observables, RESID chooses a suitable cost function from the set and then identifies nine of the simulated DSDs from the database that minimize the value of the chosen cost function. The rain rate associated with the given radar observable triplet is estimated by averaging the calculated theoretical rain rates for the identified simulated DSDs. This algorithm is designed to reduce the effects of radar measurement noise on rain-rate retrievals and is not subject to the regression uncertainty introduced in the conventional development of the rain-rate estimators. The rainfall estimation capability of our new algorithm was demonstrated by comparing its performance with two benchmark algorithms through the use of rain gauge measurements from the Midlatitude Continental Convective Clouds Experiment (MC3E) and the Olympic Mountains Experiment (OLYMPEx). This comparison showed favorable performance of the new algorithm for the rainfall events observed during the field campaigns.

Open access
Robert Conrick
,
Clifford F. Mass
, and
Qi Zhong

Abstract

Two Kelvin–Helmholtz (KH) wave events over western Washington State were simulated and evaluated using observations from the Olympic Mountains Experiment (OLYMPEX) field campaign. The events, 12 and 17 December 2015, were simulated realistically by the WRF-ARW Model, duplicating the mesoscale environment, location, and structure of embedded KH waves, which had observed wavelengths of approximately 5 km. In simulations of both cases, waves developed from instability within an intense shear layer, caused by low-level easterly flow surmounted by westerly winds aloft. The low-level easterlies resulted from blocking by the Olympic Mountains in the 12 December case, while in the 17 December event, the easterly flow was produced by the synoptic environment. Simulated microphysics were evaluated for both cases using OLYMPEX observations. When the KH waves were within the melting level, simulated microphysical fields, such as hydrometeor mixing ratios, evinced considerable oscillatory behavior. In contrast, when waves were located below the melting level, the microphysical response was attenuated. Turning off the model’s microphysics scheme and latent heating resulted in weakened KH wave activity, while removing the Olympic Mountains eliminated KH waves in the 12 December event but not the 17 December case. Finally, the impact of several microphysics parameterizations on KH activity was evaluated for both events.

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Stephanie M. Wingo
,
Walter A. Petersen
,
Patrick N. Gatlin
,
Charanjit S. Pabla
,
David A. Marks
, and
David B. Wolff

Abstract

Researchers now have the benefit of an unprecedented suite of space- and ground-based sensors that provide multidimensional and multiparameter precipitation information. Motivated by NASA’s Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission and ground validation objectives, the System for Integrating Multiplatform Data to Build the Atmospheric Column (SIMBA) has been developed as a unique multisensor precipitation data fusion tool to unify field observations recorded in a variety of formats and coordinate systems into a common reference frame. Through platform-specific modules, SIMBA processes data from native coordinates and resolutions only to the extent required to set them into a user-defined three-dimensional grid. At present, the system supports several ground-based scanning research radars, NWS NEXRAD radars, profiling Micro Rain Radars (MRRs), multiple disdrometers and rain gauges, soundings, the GPM Microwave Imager and Dual-Frequency Precipitation Radar on board the Core Observatory satellite, and Multi-Radar Multi-Sensor system quantitative precipitation estimates. SIMBA generates a new atmospheric column data product that contains a concomitant set of all available data from the supported platforms within the user-specified grid defining the column area in the versatile netCDF format. Key parameters for each data source are preserved as attributes. SIMBA provides a streamlined framework for initial research tasks, facilitating more efficient precipitation science. We demonstrate the utility of SIMBA for investigations, such as assessing spatial precipitation variability at subpixel scales and appraising satellite sensor algorithm representation of vertical precipitation structure for GPM Core Observatory overpass cases collected in the NASA Wallops Precipitation Science Research Facility and the GPM Olympic Mountain Experiment (OLYMPEX) ground validation field campaign in Washington State.

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