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Zhen Wang
,
Yini Chen
,
Liangyu Liu
,
Hao Yuan
, and
Li Zou

Abstract

Currents have a significant impact on wave parameters around islands. In this study, high-resolution unsteady current simulations based on island geography and wind fields from Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model are used as input sources. The wave action balance model uses an unstructured grid to assess the wave conditions in the Atoll during Typhoon Noul. The characteristic wave parameters, with and without the effect of currents, are compared with the field observation data, including significant wave height, wave period, and the spatial distribution of significant wave height. The results show that simulated significant wave heights and wave periods are close to observed data, considering the effect of currents. The energy and shape of the spectrum are also verified during Typhoon Noul, and the observed agreement is improved when considering the currents. The effects of current within the Atoll are relatively weaker compared to the surroundings, while stronger current effects are observed in the deeper water outside the Atoll. Refraction caused by current expands the area of moderate sea state behind the island.

Significance Statement

Several innovations of this article are as follows: 1) the influence of currents on wave conditions at the Atoll; 2) exploring the impact of currents using key parameters, such as significant wave height, wave period, and wave spectrum, especially during the passage of Typhoon Noul; 3) swell emerges as the dominant factor influencing wave conditions as the center of Typhoon Noul gradually moves away; and 4) refraction caused by current expands the area of moderate sea state behind the island.

Restricted access
Alexei Sentchev
,
Max Yaremchuk
,
Denis Bourras
,
Ivane Pairaud
, and
Philippe Fraunié

Abstract

A method of assessing the mean eddy viscosity profile (EVP) in the sea surface boundary layer (SBL) under variable wind conditions is proposed. Performance of the method is tested using observations by an ADCP-equipped platform in the coastal environment of the northwestern Mediterranean Sea under variable (3–12 m s−1) wind conditions. EVP retrievals are made by a variational method strongly constrained by the Ekman dynamics, with the wind and velocity observations assumed to be uncertain within the prescribed error bars. Results demonstrate a reasonable agreement of the EVPs with KPP shape functions for stronger (8–12 m s−1) wind conditions and appear to be consistent with the classical Pacanowski–Philander parameterization of the viscosity profile based on the Richardson number. For weaker (3–5 m s−1) winds, the EVP retrievals turn out to be less accurate, which is primarily attributed to the decay of the wind-driven turbulence energy in the SBL. Feasibility and prospects of the retrieval technique are discussed in the context of uncertainties in the structure of the background flow and limitations of the microstructure and ADCP profiling.

Restricted access
Todd McKinney
,
Nick Perlaky
,
Alice Crawford
,
Bill Brown
, and
Michael J. Newchurch

Abstract

During the 2022/23 Antarctic summer, eight pico balloon flights were deployed from Neumayer Station III (70.6666°S, 8.2667°W), yielding valuable insights into the Antarctic stratospheric wind structure. Pico balloons maintain a lower altitude compared to larger superpressure balloons, floating between 9 and 15 km MSL. The most impressive flight lasted an astounding 98 days, completing eight circumnavigations of the Southern Hemisphere. Throughout the flights, pico balloons encountered diverse air masses, displaying zonal velocities ranging from −50 to 250 km h−1 and meridional velocities between ±100 km h−1. Total wind speeds observed were extensive, spanning from 2.0 to 270 km h−1. A significant finding revealed that lower-flying pico balloons could rise due to convection underneath the flight paths, influenced by high convective available potential energy environments, resulting in changes to the balloons’ float density. Moreover, the flights demonstrated that pico balloons tended to drift farther south compared to larger stratospheric balloons, with some balloons reaching up to 8° south of the equator and 2° from the South Pole. This article explores the pressure-testing process and deployment techniques for pico balloons, showcasing their transformation from inexpensive party balloons (costing less than $20) into efficient superpressure balloons. The logistical demands for pico balloon flights were minimal, with a single person transporting all materials for the balloons (excluding lifting gas) to the Antarctic continent in carry-on luggage. The authors aim to promote the application of pico balloons to a wider scientific community by demonstrating their usefulness.

Significance Statement

Pico balloons are small party-sized balloons that are capable of floating at lower altitudes than traditional superpressure balloons. In Antarctica, where research is challenging due to harsh weather and limited resources, pico balloons present an affordable and easy-to-deploy alternative to traditional research methods. By studying the distinctive wind patterns at lower altitudes around Antarctica, pico balloons can provide valuable insights into this remote region. By demonstrating the potential use of pico balloons for scientific purposes, this study aims to offer the atmospheric community a new method of conducting research on a global scale.

Open access
D. S. Zrnić
and
V. M. Melnikov

Abstract

A measurement procedure to determine transmitted differential phase between horizontally and vertically polarized radiation of a dual-polarization radar is presented. It is applicable to radars that transmit and receive simultaneously horizontally and vertically (SHV) polarized waves. The method relies solely on weather data with no instrument intrusions whatsoever. It takes data at vertical incidence while the antenna rotates in azimuth. That way, a large number of samples is collected to reduce statistical errors in estimates. The theory indicates that the transmitted differential phase appears prominently in the backscatter signals off the melting layer. That and relations between various elements of the backscattering matrix are used to derive a set of nonlinear equations whereby the differential phase on transmission is one of the unknowns. Steps for solving these equations are presented as well as a demonstration of the results on radar data. A simplified algorithm that bypasses the coupled nonlinear equations is exposed. Conditions under which the simplification can be applied are presented. These restrict the range of the transmitted differential phase for which the simplified procedure may be applied.

Restricted access
Vigan Mensah
and
Kay I. Ohshima

Abstract

Polar and subpolar oceans play a particularly important role in the global climate and its temporal changes, yet these regions are less well sampled than the rest of the global ocean. To better understand the physical or biogeochemical properties and their variabilities in these regions, accurate data mapping is crucial. In this paper, we introduce a mapping methodology that includes a water column shrinking and stretching constraint (SSC) based on the principle of conservation of potential vorticity. To demonstrate the mapping scheme efficiency, we map the ocean temperature in the southern Sea of Okhotsk, where the bottom topography comprises a broad and shallow shelf, a sharp continental slope, and a deep oceanic basin. Such topographic features are typical of polar and subpolar marginal seas. Results reveal that the SSC integrated (SSCI) mapping strongly reduces the mapping error in the broad and shallow shelf compared with a recently introduced topographic constraint integrated (TCI) mapping procedure. We also tested our mapping scheme in the Southern Ocean, which has a comparatively slanted shelf, a wider and gentler slope, and a deep and broad oceanic basin. We found that the SSCI and TCI methods are practically equivalent there. The SSCI mapping is thus an effective method to map the ocean’s properties in various topographic environments and should be adequate in all polar and subpolar regions. Importantly, we introduced a standardized procedure for determining the decorrelation length scales—a necessary step prior to implementing any mapping scheme—in any topographic conditions.

Restricted access
Alain Protat
,
Valentin Louf
, and
Mark Curtis

Abstract

Doppler radars measure Doppler velocity within the [−VN , VN ] range, where VN is the Nyquist velocity. Doppler velocities outside this range are “folded” within this interval. All Doppler “unfolding” techniques use the folded velocities themselves. In this work, we investigate the potential of using velocities derived from optical flow techniques applied to the radar reflectivity field for that purpose. The analysis of wind speed errors using six months of multi-Doppler wind retrievals showed that 99.9% of all points are characterized by errors smaller than 26 m s−1 below 5-km height, corresponding to a failure rate of less than 0.1% if optical flow winds were used to unfold Doppler velocities for VN = 26 m s−1. These errors largely increase above 5-km height, indicating that vertical continuity tests should be included to reduce failure rates at higher elevations. Following these results, we have developed the Two-step Optical Flow Unfolding (TOFU) technique, with the specific objective to accurately unfold Doppler velocities with VN = 26 m s−1. The TOFU performance was assessed using challenging case studies, comparisons with an advanced Doppler unfolding technique using higher Nyquist velocities, and 6 months of high VN (47.2 m s−1) data artificially folded to 26 m s−1. TOFU failure rates were found to be very low. Three main situations contributed to these errors: high low-level wind shear, elevated cloud layers associated with high winds, and radar data artifacts. Our recommendation is to use these unfolded winds as the first step of advanced Doppler unfolding techniques.

Significance Statement

The potential of using optical flow winds operationally to accurately unfold Doppler velocities is demonstrated in this work. The operational significance is that the Nyquist velocity can confidently be reduced to 26 m s−1, allowing for extended first trip radar maximum range and reduced contamination from dual pulse repetition frequency artifacts.

Restricted access
Rachael N. Cross
,
David J. Bodine
,
Robert D. Palmer
,
Casey Griffin
,
Boonleng Cheong
,
Sebastian Torres
,
Caleb Fulton
,
Javier Lujan
, and
Takashi Maruyama

Abstract

When a tornado lofts debris to the height of the radar beam, a signature known as the tornadic debris signature (TDS) can sometimes be observed on radar. The TDS is a useful signature for operational forecasters because it can confirm the presence of a tornado and provide information about the amount of damage occurring. Since real-time estimates of tornadic intensity do not have a high degree of accuracy, past studies have hypothesized that the TDS could also be an indicator of the strength of a tornado. However, few studies have related the tornadic wind field to TDS characteristics because of the difficulty of obtaining accurate, three-dimensional wind data in tornadoes from radar data. With this in mind, the goals of this study are twofold: 1) to investigate the relationships between polarimetric characteristics of TDSs and the three-dimensional tornadic winds, and 2) to define relationships between polarimetric radar variables and debris characteristics. Simulations are performed using a dual-polarization radar simulator called SimRadar; large-eddy simulations (LESs) of tornadoes; and a single-volume, T -matrix-based emulator. Results show that for all simulated debris types increases in horizontal and vertical wind speeds are related to decreases in correlation coefficient and increases in TDS area and height and that, conversely, decreases in horizontal and vertical wind speeds are related to increases in correlation coefficient and decreases in TDS area and height. However, the range of correlation coefficient values varies with debris type, indicating that TDSs that are composed of similar debris types can appear remarkably different on radar in comparison with a TDS with diverse scatterers. Such findings confirm past observational hypotheses and can aid operational forecasters in tornado detection and potentially the categorization of damage severity using radar data.

Restricted access
Dudley B. Chelton

Abstract

The ability to estimate surface current divergence and vorticity from space is assessed from simulated satellite Doppler radar scatterometer measurements of surface velocity with an effective footprint diameter of 5 km across an 1800-km measurement swath. The focus is on non-internal-wave contributions to divergence and vorticity. This is achieved by simulating Doppler radar measurements of surface velocity from a numerical model in which internal waves are weak because of high dissipation, seasonal cycle forcing, and the lack of tidal forcing. Divergence is much more challenging to estimate than vorticity because the signals are weaker and restricted to smaller scales. With the measurement noise that was anticipated based on early engineering studies, divergence cannot be estimated with useful resolution. Recent advances in the understanding of how the noise in measurements of surface currents depends on the ambient wind speed have concluded that measurement noise will be substantially smaller in conditions of wind speed greater than 6 m s−1. A reassessment of the ability to estimate non-internal-wave contributions to surface current divergence in this study finds that useful estimates can be obtained in such wind conditions; the wavelength resolution capability for divergence estimates in the middle of the measurement swaths will be better than 100 km in 16-day averages. The improved measurement accuracy will also provide estimates of surface current vorticity with a resolution nearly a factor of 2 higher than was previously thought, resulting in wavelength resolutions of about 50, 30, and 20 km in snapshots, 4-day averages, and 16-day averages, respectively.

Significance Statement

The divergence of surface ocean velocity is of great interest to oceanographers because of its direct relation to the near-surface vertical velocity that has important implications for air–sea exchanges of CO2 and other gases, as well as the supply of nutrients from depth that are critical to biological productivity. Observational estimates of surface divergence are challenging because of the weakness of the divergence signals and the technical difficulties in acquiring two-dimensional observations of velocity with sufficient accuracy and spatial resolution to obtain accurate estimates of the divergence. The analysis presented here concludes that useful estimates of surface current divergence can be obtained from a future Doppler radar satellite mission that is in the early stages of development by NASA.

Open access
Luke Colosi
,
Nick Pizzo
,
Laurent Grare
,
Nick Statom
, and
Luc Lenain

Abstract

Surface waves play an important role in the ocean–atmosphere coupled climate system by mediating the exchange of momentum, heat, and gas between the atmosphere and the ocean. Pseudo-Lagrangian autonomous platforms (e.g., Boeing Liquid Robotics Wave Gliders) have been used to investigate the underlying physical dynamics involved in these processes to better parameterize the air–sea exchange occurring at the scale of the surface waves. This requires accurate measurements of directional surface waves down to short scales [O(1) m], as these shorter waves support most of the stress between the atmosphere and the ocean. A challenge to overcome for pseudo-Lagrangian autonomous vehicles is that the platform’s velocity causes the observed frequency of the waves to be Doppler shifted. This leads to a modulation of the wave spectrum, particularly at high frequencies, that depends on the platform’s speed, the wave frequency, and the relative angle between the direction of wave and platform propagation. In this work, we propose a method to account for Doppler effects that considers the full directionality of the wave field. The method is validated using a unique dataset collected from a fleet of two Wave Gliders off the coast of Southern California in September 2019 operating on the perimeter of a tight square (500-m edge length) track over a 3-day deployment. This technique can be used to estimate wave spectra derived from other slow-moving surface vehicles such as Saildrones that use platform motion to characterize the surface wave field. MATLAB routines to implement this method are publicly available.

Significance Statement

The purpose of this study is to introduce a general approach that corrects observations of ocean surface waves collected on board autonomous surface vehicles (ASVs) for the effects on the wave period due to the vehicle’s forward motion. This is important because improving climate models requires accurate measurements of short-wavelength waves, which can be readily obtained from ASVs. Our method provides the tools for ASVs to better understand air–sea physics and the larger role ocean surface waves play in Earth’s climate system.

Open access
Benjamin A. Hodges
,
Laurent Grare
,
Benjamin Greenwood
,
Kayli Matsuyoshi
,
Nick Pizzo
,
Nicholas M. Statom
,
J. Thomas Farrar
, and
Luc Lenain

Abstract

The development of autonomous surface vehicles, such as the Boeing Liquid Robotics Wave Glider, has revolutionized our ability to collect surface ocean–lower atmosphere observations, a crucial step toward developing better physical understanding of upper-ocean and air–sea interaction processes. However, due to the wave-following nature of these vehicles, they experience rapid shifting, rolling, and pitching under the action of surface waves, making motion compensation of observations of ocean currents particularly challenging. We present an evaluation of the accuracy of Wave Glider–based ADCP measurements by comparing them with coincident and collocated observations collected from a bottom-mounted ADCP over the course of a week-long experiment. A novel motion compensation method, tailored to wave-following surface vehicles, is presented and compared with standard approaches. We show that the use of an additional position and attitude sensor (GPS/IMU) significantly improves the accuracy of the observed currents.

Open access