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Bruce Albrecht, Virendra Ghate, Johannes Mohrmann, Robert Wood, Paquita Zuidema, Christopher Bretherton, Christian Schwartz, Edwin Eloranta, Susanne Glienke, Shaunna Donaher, Mampi Sarkar, Jeremy McGibbon, Alison D. Nugent, Raymond A. Shaw, Jacob Fugal, Patrick Minnis, Robindra Paliknoda, Louis Lussier, Jorgen Jensen, J. Vivekanandan, Scott Ellis, Peisang Tsai, Robert Rilling, Julie Haggerty, Teresa Campos, Meghan Stell, Michael Reeves, Stuart Beaton, John Allison, Gregory Stossmeister, Samuel Hall, and Sebastian Schmidt

Abstract

The Cloud System Evolution in the Trades (CSET) study was designed to describe and explain the evolution of the boundary layer aerosol, cloud, and thermodynamic structures along trajectories within the North Pacific trade winds. The study centered on seven round trips of the National Science Foundation–National Center for Atmospheric Research (NSF–NCAR) Gulfstream V (GV) between Sacramento, California, and Kona, Hawaii, between 7 July and 9 August 2015. The CSET observing strategy was to sample aerosol, cloud, and boundary layer properties upwind from the transition zone over the North Pacific and to resample these areas two days later. Global Forecast System forecast trajectories were used to plan the outbound flight to Hawaii with updated forecast trajectories setting the return flight plan two days later. Two key elements of the CSET observing system were the newly developed High-Performance Instrumented Airborne Platform for Environmental Research (HIAPER) Cloud Radar (HCR) and the high-spectral-resolution lidar (HSRL). Together they provided unprecedented characterizations of aerosol, cloud, and precipitation structures that were combined with in situ measurements of aerosol, cloud, precipitation, and turbulence properties. The cloud systems sampled included solid stratocumulus infused with smoke from Canadian wildfires, mesoscale cloud–precipitation complexes, and patches of shallow cumuli in very clean environments. Ultraclean layers observed frequently near the top of the boundary layer were often associated with shallow, optically thin, layered veil clouds. The extensive aerosol, cloud, drizzle, and boundary layer sampling made over open areas of the northeast Pacific along 2-day trajectories during CSET will be an invaluable resource for modeling studies of boundary layer cloud system evolution and its governing physical processes.

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Bradley W. Klotz and David S. Nolan

Abstract

Surface wind speeds in tropical cyclones are important for defining current intensity and intensification. Traditionally, airborne observations provide the best information about the surface wind speeds, with the Stepped Frequency Microwave Radiometer (SFMR) providing a key role in obtaining such data. However, the flight patterns conducted by hurricane hunter aircraft are limited in their azimuthal coverage of the surface wind field, resulting in an undersampling of the wind field and consequent underestimation of the peak 10-m wind speed. A previous study provided quantitative estimates of the average underestimate for a very strong hurricane. However, no broader guidance on applying a correction based on undersampling has been presented in detail. To accomplish this task, a modified observing system simulation experiment with five hurricane simulations is used to perform a statistical evaluation of the peak wind speed underestimate over different stages of the tropical cyclone life cycle. Analysis of numerous simulated flights highlights prominent relationships between wind speed undersampling and storm size, where size is defined by the radius of maximum wind speed (RMW). For example, an intense hurricane with small RMW needs negligible correction, while a large-RMW tropical storm requires a 16%–19% change. A lookup table of undersampling correction factors as a function of peak SFMR wind speed and RMW is provided to assist the tropical cyclone operations community. Implications for hurricane best track intensity estimates are also discussed using real data from past Atlantic hurricane seasons.

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Robert Wood, Kuan-Ting O, Christopher S. Bretherton, Johannes Mohrmann, Bruce. A. Albrecht, Paquita Zuidema, Virendra Ghate, Chris Schwartz, Ed Eloranta, Susanne Glienke, Raymond A. Shaw, Jacob Fugal, and Patrick Minnis

Abstract

A common feature of the stratocumulus-to-cumulus transition (SCT) is the presence of layers in which the concentration of particles larger than 0.1 μm is below 10 cm−3. These ultraclean layers (UCLs) are explored using aircraft observations from 14 flights of the NSF–NCAR Gulfstream V (G-V) aircraft between California and Hawaii. UCLs are commonly located in the upper part of decoupled boundary layers, with coverage increasing from less than 5% within 500 km of the California coast to ~30%–60% west of 130°W. Most clouds in UCLs are thin, horizontally extensive layers containing drops with median volume radii ranging from 15 to 30 μm. Many UCL clouds are optically thin and do not fully attenuate the G-V lidar and yet are frequently detected with a 94-GHz radar with a sensitivity of around −30 dBZ. Satellite data indicate that UCL clouds have visible reflectances of ~0.1–0.2 and are often quasi laminar, giving them a veil-like appearance. These optically thin veil clouds exist for 1–3 h or more, are associated with mesoscale cumulus clusters, and likely grow by spreading under strong inversions. Active updrafts in cumulus (Cu) clouds have droplet concentrations of ~25–50 cm−3. Collision–coalescence in the Cu and later sedimentation in the thinner UCL clouds are likely the key processes that remove droplets in UCL clouds. UCLs are relatively quiescent, and a lack of mixing with dry air above and below the cloud may help to explain their longevity. The very low and highly variable droplet concentrations in UCL clouds, together with their low geometrical and optical thickness, make these clouds particularly challenging to represent in large-scale models.

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Kuan-Ting O, Robert Wood, and Christopher S. Bretherton

Abstract

In Part I, aircraft observations are used to show that ultraclean layers (UCLs) in the marine boundary layer (MBL) are a common feature of the stratocumulus-to-cumulus transition (SCT) region over the northeast Pacific. The ultraclean layers are defined as layers of either cloud or clear air in which the concentration of particles with diameter larger than 0.1 μm is below 10 cm−3. Here, idealized microphysical parcel modeling shows that in the cumulus regime, collision–coalescence can strongly deplete cloud droplet concentration in cumulus (Cu) updrafts, thereby removing cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) from the atmosphere, suggesting that collision scavenging is likely the key process causing the low particle concentration in UCLs. Furthermore, the model results suggest that the stratocumulus regime is typically not favorable for UCL formation, because condensate amounts are generally not large enough to deplete drops in the time it takes to loft air to the upper planetary boundary layer (PBL). A bulk parameterization of the coalescence-scavenging rate is derived based on in situ measurements. The fractional coalescence-scavenging rate is found to be strongly dependent upon liquid water content (LWC) and, hence, the height above cloud base, indicating that a higher cloud top and thus a greater cloud thickness in a Cu updraft is an important factor accounting for the observed sharp rise of UCL coverage in the SCT region. An important implication is that PBL height, which controls maximum cloud thickness, and therefore LWC in updrafts, could be a crucial factor constraining coalescence scavenging and thus the formation of UCLs in the MBL.

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