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Andrew L. Pazmany
,
James B. Mead
,
Howard B. Bluestein
,
Jeffrey C. Snyder
, and
Jana B. Houser

Abstract

A novel, rapid-scanning, X-band (3-cm wavelength), polarimetric (RaXPol), mobile radar was developed for severe-weather research. The radar employs a 2.4-m-diameter dual-polarized parabolic dish antenna on a high-speed pedestal capable of rotating the antenna at 180° s−1. The radar can complete a 10-elevation-step volume scan in about 20 s, while maintaining a 180-record-per-second data rate. The transmitter employs a 20-kW peak-power traveling wave tube amplifier that can generate pulse compression and frequency-hopping waveforms. Frequency hopping permits the acquisition of many more independent samples possible than without frequency hopping, making it possible to scan much more rapidly than conventional radars. Standard data products include vertically and horizontally polarized equivalent radar reflectivity factor, Doppler velocity mean and standard deviation, copolar cross-correlation coefficient, and differential phase. This paper describes the radar system and illustrates the capabilities of the radar through selected analyses of data collected in the U.S. central plains during the 2011 spring tornado season. Also noted are opportunities for experimenting with different signal-processing techniques to reduce beam smearing, increase sensitivity, and improve range resolution.

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Howard B. Bluestein
,
Andrew L. Pazmany
,
John C. Galloway
, and
Robert E. McIntosh

An experiment whose objective was to determine the wind and reflectivity substructure of severe convective storms is detailed. A 3-mm-wavelength (95 GHz) pulsed Doppler radar was installed in a van and operated in the Southern Plains of the United States during May and early June of 1993 and 1994. Using a narrow-beam antenna with computer-controlled scanning and positioning the van several kilometers from targets in severe thunderstorms, the authors were able to achieve 30-m spatial resolution and also obtain video documentation. A dual-polarization pulse-pair technique was used to realize a maximum unambiguous velocity of ±80 m s−1. Analyses of data collected in a mesocyclone near the intersection of two squall lines, in a low-precipitation storm, and in a hook echo in a supercell are discussed. A strategy to achieve 10-m spatial resolution and obtain analyses of the internal structure of tornadoes is proposed.

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Robin L. Tanamachi
,
Howard B. Bluestein
,
Wen-Chau Lee
,
Michael Bell
, and
Andrew Pazmany

Abstract

On 15 May 1999, a storm intercept team from the University of Oklahoma collected high-resolution, W-band Doppler radar data in a tornado near Stockton, Kansas. Thirty-five sector scans were obtained over a period of approximately 10 min, capturing the tornado life cycle from just after tornadogenesis to the decay stage. A low-reflectivity “eye”—whose diameter fluctuated during the period of observation—was present in the reflectivity scans. A ground-based velocity track display (GBVTD) analysis of the W-band Doppler radar data of the Stockton tornado was conducted; results and interpretations are presented and discussed. It was found from the analysis that the axisymmetric component of the azimuthal wind profile of the tornado was suggestive of a Burgers–Rott vortex during the most intense phase of the life cycle of the tornado. The temporal evolution of the axisymmetric components of azimuthal and radial wind, as well as the wavenumber-1, -2, and -3 angular harmonics of the azimuthal wind, are also presented. A quasi-stationary wavenumber-2 feature of the azimuthal wind was analyzed from 25 of the 35 scans. It is shown, via simulated radar data collection in an idealized Burgers–Rott vortex, that this wavenumber-2 feature may be caused by the translational distortion of the vortex during the radar scans. From the GBVTD analysis, it can be seen that the maximum azimuthally averaged azimuthal wind speed increased while the radius of maximum wind (RMW) decreased slightly during the intensification phase of the Stockton tornado. In addition, the maximum azimuthally averaged azimuthal wind speed, the RMW, and the circulation about the vortex center all decreased simultaneously as the tornado decayed.

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Howard B. Bluestein
,
Michael M. French
,
Robin L. Tanamachi
,
Stephen Frasier
,
Kery Hardwick
,
Francesc Junyent
, and
Andrew L. Pazmany

Abstract

A mobile, dual-polarization, X-band, Doppler radar scanned tornadoes at close range in supercells on 12 and 29 May 2004 in Kansas and Oklahoma, respectively. In the former tornadoes, a visible circular debris ring detected as circular regions of low values of differential reflectivity and the cross-correlation coefficient was distinguished from surrounding spiral bands of precipitation of higher values of differential reflectivity and the cross-correlation coefficient. A curved band of debris was indicated on one side of the tornado in another. In a tornado and/or mesocyclone on 29 May 2004, which was hidden from the view of the storm-intercept team by precipitation, the vortex and its associated “weak-echo hole” were at times relatively wide; however, a debris ring was not evident in either the differential reflectivity field or in the cross-correlation coefficient field, most likely because the radar beam scanned too high above the ground. In this case, differential attenuation made identification of debris using differential reflectivity difficult and it was necessary to use the cross-correlation coefficient to determine that there was no debris cloud. The latter tornado’s parent storm was a high-precipitation (HP) supercell, which also spawned an anticyclonic tornado approximately 10 km away from the cyclonic tornado, along the rear-flank gust front. No debris cloud was detected in this tornado either, also because the radar beam was probably too high.

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Howard B. Bluestein
,
Christopher C. Weiss
,
Michael M. French
,
Eric M. Holthaus
,
Robin L. Tanamachi
,
Stephen Frasier
, and
Andrew L. Pazmany

Abstract

The University of Massachusetts W- and X-band, mobile, Doppler radars scanned several tornadoes at close range in south-central Kansas on 12 May 2004. The detailed vertical structure of the Doppler wind and radar reflectivity fields of one of the tornadoes is described with the aid of boresighted video. The inside wall of a weak-echo hole inside the tornado was terminated at the bottom as a bowl-shaped boundary within several tens of meters of the ground. Doppler signatures of horizontal vortices were noted along one edge in the lowest 500 m of the tornado. The vertical structure of Doppler velocity displayed significant variations on the 100-m scale. Near the center of the tornado, a quasi-horizontal, radial bulge of the weak-echo hole at ∼500–600 m AGL dropped to about 400 m above the ground and was evident as a weak-echo band to the south of the tornado. It is suggested that this feature represents echo-weak material transported radially outward by a vertical circulation. Significant vertical variations of Doppler velocity were found in the surface friction layer both inside and outside the tornado core. The shape of a weak-echo notch that was associated with a hook echo wrapped around the tornado is described. Highest Doppler velocities were located outside the condensation funnel. The structure of the other tornadoes is also described, but with much less detail. Some of the analyses are compared with numerical simulations of tornado-like vortices done elsewhere.

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Howard B. Bluestein
,
Stephen G. Gaddy
,
David C. Dowell
,
Andrew L. Pazmany
,
John C. Galloway
,
Robert E. McIntosh
, and
Herbert Stein

Abstract

Counterrotating 500-m-scale vortices in the boundary layer are documented in the right-moving member of a splitting supercell thunderstorm in northeastern Oklahoma on 17 May 1995 during the Verification of the Origins of Rotation in Tornadoes Experiment. A description is given of these vortices based upon data collected at close range by a mobile, 3-mm wavelength (95 GHz), pulsed Doppler radar. The vortices are related to a storm-scale, pseudo-dual-Doppler analysis of airborne data collected by the Electra Doppler radar (ELDORA) using the fore–aft scanning technique and to a boresighted video of the cloud features with which the vortices were associated. The behavior of the storm is also documented from an analysis of WSR-88D Doppler radar data.

The counterrotating vortices, which were associated with nearly mirror image hook echoes in reflectivity, were separated by 1 km. The cyclonic member was associated with a cyclonically swirling cloud base. The vortices were located along the edge of a rear-flank downdraft gust front, southeast of a kink in the gust front boundary, a location previously found to be a secondary region for tornado formation. The kink was coincident with a notch in the radar echo reflectivity. A gust front located north of the kink, along the edge of the forward-flank downdraft, was characterized mainly by convergence and density current–like flow, while the rear-flank downdraft boundary was characterized mainly by cyclonic vorticity.

Previously documented vortices along gust fronts have had the same sense of rotation as the others in the group and are thought to have been associated with shearing instabilities. The symmetry of the two vortices suggests that they may have been formed through the tilting of ambient horizontal vorticity. Although the vortices did not develop into tornadoes, it is speculated that similar vortices could be the seeds from which some tornadoes form.

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Andrew L. Pazmany
,
John C. Galloway
,
James B. Mead
,
Ivan Popstefanija
,
Robert E. McIntosh
, and
Howard W. Bluestein

Abstract

The Polarization Diversity Pulse-Pair (PDPP) technique can extend simultaneously the maximum unambiguous range and the maximum unambiguous velocity of a Doppler weather radar. This technique has been applied using a high-resolution 95-GHz radar to study the reflectivity and velocity structure in severe thunderstorms. This paper documents the technique, presents an analysis of the first two moments of the estimated mean velocity, and provides a comparison of the results with experimental data, including PDPP images of high-vorticity regions in supercell storms.

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Zhien Wang
,
Jeffrey French
,
Gabor Vali
,
Perry Wechsler
,
Samuel Haimov
,
Alfred Rodi
,
Min Deng
,
Dave Leon
,
Jeff Snider
,
Liran Peng
, and
Andrew L. Pazmany

Clouds are a critical component of the Earth's coupled water and energy cycles. Poor understanding of cloud–radiation–dynamics feedbacks results in large uncertainties in forecasting human-induced climate changes. Better understanding of cloud microphysical and dynamical processes is critical to improving cloud parameterizations in climate models as well as in cloud-resolving models. Airborne in situ and remote sensing can make critical contributions to progress. Here, a new integrated cloud observation capability developed for the University of Wyoming King Air is described. The suite of instruments includes the Wyoming Cloud Lidar, a 183- GHz microwave radiometer, the Wyoming Cloud Radar, and in situ probes. Combined use of these remote sensor measurements yields more complete descriptions of the vertical structure of cloud microphysical properties and of cloud-scale dynamics than that attainable through ground-based remote sensing or in situ sampling alone. Together with detailed in situ data on aerosols, hydrometeors, water vapor, thermodynamic, and air motion parameters, an advanced observational capability was created to study cloud-scale processes from a single aircraft. The Wyoming Airborne Integrated Cloud Observation (WAICO) experiment was conducted to demonstrate these new capabilities and examples are presented to illustrate the results obtained.

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Michael M. French
,
Howard B. Bluestein
,
David C. Dowell
,
Louis J. Wicker
,
Matthew R. Kramar
, and
Andrew L. Pazmany

Abstract

On 15 May 2003, two ground-based, mobile, Doppler radars scanned a supercell that moved through the Texas Panhandle and cyclically produced mesocyclones. The two radars collected data from the storm during a rapid cyclic mesocyclogenesis stage and a more slowly evolving tornadic period. A 3-cm-wavelength radar scanned the supercell continuously for a short time after it was cyclic but close to the time of tornadogenesis. A 5-cm-wavelength radar scanned the supercell the entire time it exhibited cyclic behavior and for an additional 30 min after that. The volumetric data obtained with the 5-cm-wavelength radar allowed for the individual circulations to be analyzed at multiple levels in the supercell. Most of the circulations that eventually dissipated moved rearward with respect to storm motion and were located at distances progressively farther away from the region of rear-flank outflow. The circulations associated with a tornado did not move nearly as far rearward relative to the storm. The mean circulation diameters were approximately 1–4 km and had lifetimes of 10–30 min. Circulation dissipation often, but not always, occurred following decreases in circulation diameter, while changes in maximum radial wind shear were not reliable indicators of circulation dissipation. In one instance, a pair of circulations rotated cyclonically around, and moved toward, each other; the two circulations then combined to form one circulation. Single-Doppler radial velocities from both radars were used to assess the differences between the pretornadic circulations and the tornadic circulations. Storm outflow in the rear flank of the storm increased notably during the time cyclic mesocyclogenesis slowed and tornado formation commenced. Large storm-relative inflow likely advected the pretornadic circulations rearward in the absence of organized outflow. The development of strong outflow in the rear flank probably balanced the strong inflow, allowing the tornadic circulations to stay in areas rich in vertical vorticity generation.

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Kumar Vijay Mishra
,
Witold F. Krajewski
,
Radoslaw Goska
,
Daniel Ceynar
,
Bong-Chul Seo
,
Anton Kruger
,
James J. Niemeier
,
Miguel B. Galvez
,
Merhala Thurai
,
V. N. Bringi
,
Leonid Tolstoy
,
Paul A. Kucera
,
Walter A. Petersen
,
Jacopo Grazioli
, and
Andrew L. Pazmany

Abstract

This article presents the data collected and analyzed using the University of Iowa’s X-band polarimetric (XPOL) radars that were part of the spring 2013 hydrology-oriented Iowa Flood Studies (IFloodS) field campaign, sponsored by NASA’s Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Ground Validation (GV) program. The four mobile radars have full scanning capabilities that provide quantitative estimation of the rainfall at high temporal and spatial resolutions over experimental watersheds. IFloodS was the first extensive test of the XPOL radars, and the XPOL radars demonstrated their field worthiness during this campaign with 46 days of nearly uninterrupted, remotely monitored, and controlled operations. This paper presents detailed postcampaign analyses of the high-resolution, research-quality data that the XPOL radars collected. The XPOL dual-polarimetric products and rainfall are compared with data from other instruments for selected diverse meteorological events at high spatiotemporal resolutions from unprecedentedly unique and vast data generated during IFloodS operations. The XPOL data exhibit a detailed, complex structure of precipitation viewed at multiple range resolutions (75 and 30 m). The inter-XPOL comparisons within an overlapping scanned domain demonstrate consistency across different XPOL units. The XPOLs employed a series of heterogeneous scans and obtained estimates of the meteorological echoes up to a range oversampling of 7.5 m. A finer-resolution (30 m) algorithm is described to correct the polarimetric estimates for attenuation at the X band and obtain agreement of attenuation-corrected products with disdrometers and NASA S-band polarimetric (NPOL) radar. The paper includes hardware characterization of Iowa XPOL radars conducted prior to the deployment in IFloodS following the GPM calibration protocol.

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