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Robert M. Rauber
,
Bart Geerts
,
Lulin Xue
,
Jeffrey French
,
Katja Friedrich
,
Roy M. Rasmussen
,
Sarah A. Tessendorf
,
Derek R. Blestrud
,
Melvin L. Kunkel
, and
Shaun Parkinson

Abstract

This paper reviews research conducted over the last six decades to understand and quantify the efficacy of wintertime orographic cloud seeding to increase winter snowpack and water supplies within a mountain basin. The fundamental hypothesis underlying cloud seeding as a method to enhance precipitation from wintertime orographic cloud systems is that a cloud’s natural precipitation efficiency can be enhanced by converting supercooled water to ice upstream and over a mountain range in such a manner that newly created ice particles can grow and fall to the ground as additional snow on a specified target area. The review summarizes the results of physical, statistical, and modeling studies aimed at evaluating this underlying hypothesis, with a focus on results from more recent experiments that take advantage of modern instrumentation and advanced computation capabilities. Recent advances in assessment and operations are also reviewed, and recommendations for future experiments, based on the successes and failures of experiments of the past, are given.

Full access
Troy J. Zaremba
,
Kaylee Heimes
,
Robert M. Rauber
,
Bart Geerts
,
Jeffrey R. French
,
Coltin Grasmick
,
Sarah A. Tessendorf
,
Lulin Xue
,
Katja Friedrich
,
Roy M. Rasmussen
,
Melvin L. Kunkel
, and
Derek R. Blestrud

Abstract

Updrafts in wintertime cloud systems over mountainous regions can be described as fixed, mechanically driven by the terrain under a given ambient wind and stability profile (i.e., vertically propagating gravity waves tied to flow over topography), and transient, associated primarily with vertical wind shear and conditional instability within passing weather systems. This analysis quantifies the magnitude of fixed and transient updraft structures over the Payette River basin sampled during the Seeded and Natural Orographic Wintertime Clouds: The Idaho Experiment (SNOWIE). Vertical motions were retrieved from Wyoming Cloud Radar measurements of radial velocity using the algorithm presented in Part I. Transient circulations were removed, and fixed orographic circulations were quantified by averaging vertical circulations along repeated cross sections over the same terrain during the campaign. Fixed orographic vertical circulations had magnitudes of 0.3–0.5 m s−1. These fixed vertical circulations were composed of a background circulation in which transient circulations were embedded. Transient vertical circulations are shown to be associated with transient wave motions, cloud-top generating cells, convection, and turbulence. Representative transient vertical circulations are illustrated, and data from rawinsondes over the Payette River basin are used to infer the relationship of the vertical circulations to shear and instability. Maximum updrafts are shown to exceed 5 m s−1 within Kelvin–Helmholtz waves, 4 m s−1 associated with transient gravity waves, 3 m s−1 in generating cells, 6 m s−1 in elevated convection, 4 m s−1 in surface-based deep convection, 5 m s−1 in boundary layer turbulence, and 9 m s−1 in shear-induced turbulence.

Free access
Kaylee Heimes
,
Troy J. Zaremba
,
Robert M. Rauber
,
Sarah A. Tessendorf
,
Lulin Xue
,
Kyoko Ikeda
,
Bart Geerts
,
Jeffrey French
,
Katja Friedrich
,
Roy M. Rasmussen
,
Melvin L. Kunkel
, and
Derek R. Blestrud

Abstract

In Part II, two classes of vertical motions, fixed (associated with vertically propagating gravity waves tied to flow over topography) and transient (associated primarily with vertical wind shear and conditional instability within passing weather systems), were diagnosed over the Payette River basin of Idaho during the Seeded and Natural Orographic Wintertime Clouds: The Idaho Experiment (SNOWIE). This paper compares vertical motions retrieved from airborne Doppler radial velocity measurements with those from a 900-m-resolution model simulation to determine the impact of transient vertical motions on trajectories of ice particles initiated by airborne cloud seeding. An orographic forcing index, developed to compare vertical motion fields retrieved from the radar with the model, showed that fixed vertical motions were well resolved by the model while transient vertical motions were not. Particle trajectories were calculated for 75 cross-sectional pairs, each differing only by the observed and modeled vertical motion field. Wind fields and particle terminal velocities were otherwise identical in both trajectories so that the impact of transient vertical circulations on particle trajectories could be isolated. In 66.7% of flight-leg pairs, the distance traveled by particles in the model and observations differed by less than 5 km with transient features having minimal impact. In 9.3% of the pairs, model and observation trajectories landed within the ideal target seeding elevation range (>2000 m), whereas, in 77.3% of the pairs, both trajectories landed below the ideal target elevation. Particles in the observations and model descended into valleys on the mountains’ lee sides in 94.2% of cases in which particles traveled less than 37 km.

Free access
Troy J. Zaremba
,
Robert M. Rauber
,
Bart Geerts
,
Jeffrey R. French
,
Sarah A. Tessendorf
,
Lulin Xue
,
Katja Friedrich
,
Courtney Weeks
,
Roy M. Rasmussen
,
Melvin L. Kunkel
, and
Derek R. Blestrud

Abstract

This paper examines the controls on supercooled liquid water content (SLWC) and drop number concentrations (Nt ,CDP) over the Payette River basin during the Seeded and Natural Orographic Wintertime Clouds: The Idaho Experiment (SNOWIE) campaign. During SNOWIE, 27.4% of 1-Hz in situ cloud droplet probe samples were in an environment containing supercooled liquid water (SLW). The interquartile range of SLWC, when present, was found to be 0.02–0.18 g m−3 and 13.3–37.2 cm−3 for Nt ,CDP, with the most extreme values reaching 0.40–1.75 g m−3 and 150–320 cm−3 in isolated regions of convection and strong shear-induced turbulence. SLWC and Nt ,CDP distributions are shown to be directly related to cloud-top temperature and ice particle concentrations, consistent with past research over other mountain ranges. Two classes of vertical motions were analyzed as potential controls on SLWC and Nt ,CDP, the first forced by the orography and fixed in space relative to the topography (stationary waves) and the second transient, triggered by vertical shear and instability within passing synoptic-scale cyclones. SLWC occurrence and magnitudes, and Nt ,CDP associated with fixed updrafts were found to be normally distributed about ridgelines when SLW was present. SLW was more likely to form at low altitudes near the terrain slope associated with fixed waves due to higher mixing ratios and larger vertical air parcel displacements at low altitudes. When considering transient updrafts, SLWC and Nt ,CDP appear more uniformly distributed over the flight track with little discernable terrain dependence as a result of time and spatially varying updrafts associated with passing weather systems. The implications for cloud seeding over the basin are discussed.

Restricted access
Katja Friedrich
,
Jeffrey R. French
,
Sarah A. Tessendorf
,
Melinda Hatt
,
Courtney Weeks
,
Robert M. Rauber
,
Bart Geerts
,
Lulin Xue
,
Roy M. Rasmussen
,
Derek R. Blestrud
,
Melvin L. Kunkel
,
Nicholas Dawson
, and
Shaun Parkinson

Abstract

The spatial distribution and magnitude of snowfall resulting from cloud seeding with silver iodide (AgI) is closely linked to atmospheric conditions, seeding operations, and dynamical, thermodynamical, and microphysical processes. Here, microphysical processes leading to ice and snow production are analyzed in orographic clouds for three cloud-seeding events, each with light or no natural precipitation and well-defined, traceable seeding lines. Airborne and ground-based radar observations are linked to in situ cloud and precipitation measurements to determine the spatiotemporal evolution of ice initiation, particle growth, and snow fallout in seeded clouds. These processes and surface snow amounts are explored as particle plumes evolve from varying amounts of AgI released, and within changing environmental conditions, including changes in liquid water content (LWC) along and downwind of the seeding track, wind speed, and shear. More AgI did not necessarily produce more liquid equivalent snowfall (LESnow). The greatest amount of LESnow, largest area covered by snowfall, and highest peak snowfall produced through seeding occurred on the day with the largest and most widespread occurrence of supercooled drizzle, highest wind shear, and greater LWC along and downwind of the seeding track. The day with the least supercooled drizzle and the lowest LWC downwind of the seeding track produced the smallest amount of LESnow through seeding. The stronger the wind was, the farther away the snowfall occurred from the seeding track.

Free access
Sarah A. Tessendorf
,
Kyoko Ikeda
,
Roy M. Rasmussen
,
Jeffrey French
,
Robert M. Rauber
,
Alexei Korolev
,
Lulin Xue
,
Derek R. Blestrud
,
Nicholas Dawson
,
Melinda Meadows
,
Melvin L. Kunkel
, and
Shaun Parkinson

Abstract

During the Seeded and Natural Orographic Wintertime clouds: the Idaho Experiment (SNOWIE) field campaign, cloud-top generating cells were frequently observed in the very high-resolution W-band airborne cloud radar data. This study examines multiple flight segments from three SNOWIE cases that exhibited cloud-top generating cells structures, focusing on the in situ measurements inside and outside these cells to characterize the microphysics of these cells. The observed generating cells in these three cases occurred in cloud tops of −15° to −30°C, with and without overlying cloud layers, but always with shallow layers of atmospheric instability observed at cloud top. The results also indicate that liquid water content, vertical velocity, and drizzle and ice crystal concentrations are greater inside the generating cells compared to the adjacent portions of the cloud. The generating cells were predominantly <500 m in horizontal width and frequently exhibited drizzle drops coexisting with ice. The particle imagery indicates that ice particle habits included plates, columns, and rimed and irregular crystals, likely formed via primary ice nucleation mechanisms. Understanding the sources of natural ice formation is important to understanding precipitation formation in winter orographic clouds, and is especially relevant for clouds that may be targeted for glaciogenic cloud seeding as well as to improve model representation of these clouds.

Significance Statement

This study presents the characteristics of cloud-top generating cells in winter orographic clouds, and documents that fine-scale generating cells are ubiquitous in clouds over complex terrain in addition to having been observed in other types of clouds. The generating cells exhibited enhanced concentrations of larger drizzle and ice particles, which suggests the environments of these fine-scale features promote ice formation and growth. The source of ice formation in winter clouds is critical to understanding and modeling the precipitation formation process. Given the ubiquity of cloud-top generating cells in many types of clouds around the world, this study further motivates the need to investigate methods for representing subgrid-scale environments to improve ice formation in numerical models.

Restricted access
Deepak Gopalakrishnan
,
Sourav Taraphdar
,
Olivier M. Pauluis
,
Lulin Xue
,
R. S. Ajayamohan
,
Noor Al Shamsi
,
Sisi Chen
,
Jared A. Lee
,
Wojciech W. Grabowski
,
Changhai Liu
,
Sarah A. Tessendorf
, and
Roy M. Rasmussen

Abstract

This study investigates the structure and evolution of a summertime convective event that occurred on 14 July 2015 over the Arabian region. We use the WRF Model with 1-km horizontal grid spacing and test three PBL parameterizations: the Mellor–Yamada–Nakanishi–Niino (MYNN) scheme; the Asymmetrical Convective Model, version 2, (ACM2) scheme; and the quasi-normal scale-elimination (QNSE) scheme. Convection initiates near the Al Hajar Mountains of northern Oman at around 1100 local time (LT; 0700 UTC) and propagates northwestward. A nonorographic convective band along the west coast of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) develops after 1500 LT as a result of the convergence of cold pools with the sea breeze from the Arabian Gulf. The model simulation employing the QNSE scheme simulates the convection initiation and propagation well. Although the MYNN and ACM2 simulations show convective initiation near the Al Hajar Mountains, they fail to simulate the development of the convective band along the UAE west coast. The MYNN run simulates colder near-surface temperatures and a weaker sea breeze, whereas the ACM2 run simulates a stronger sea breeze but a drier lower troposphere. Sensitivity simulations using horizontal grid spacings of 9 and 3 km show that lower-resolution runs develop broader convective structures and weaker cold pools and horizontal wind divergence, affecting the development of convection along the west coast of the UAE. The 1-km run using the QNSE PBL scheme realistically captures the sequence of events that leads to the moist convection over the UAE and adjacent mountains.

Open access
Pablo A. Mendoza
,
Martyn P. Clark
,
Naoki Mizukami
,
Andrew J. Newman
,
Michael Barlage
,
Ethan D. Gutmann
,
Roy M. Rasmussen
,
Balaji Rajagopalan
,
Levi D. Brekke
, and
Jeffrey R. Arnold

Abstract

The assessment of climate change impacts on water resources involves several methodological decisions, including choices of global climate models (GCMs), emission scenarios, downscaling techniques, and hydrologic modeling approaches. Among these, hydrologic model structure selection and parameter calibration are particularly relevant and usually have a strong subjective component. The goal of this research is to improve understanding of the role of these decisions on the assessment of the effects of climate change on hydrologic processes. The study is conducted in three basins located in the Colorado headwaters region, using four different hydrologic model structures [PRMS, VIC, Noah LSM, and Noah LSM with multiparameterization options (Noah-MP)]. To better understand the role of parameter estimation, model performance and projected hydrologic changes (i.e., changes in the hydrology obtained from hydrologic models due to climate change) are compared before and after calibration with the University of Arizona shuffled complex evolution (SCE-UA) algorithm. Hydrologic changes are examined via a climate change scenario where the Community Climate System Model (CCSM) change signal is used to perturb the boundary conditions of the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model configured at 4-km resolution. Substantial intermodel differences (i.e., discrepancies between hydrologic models) in the portrayal of climate change impacts on water resources are demonstrated. Specifically, intermodel differences are larger than the mean signal from the CCSM–WRF climate scenario examined, even after the calibration process. Importantly, traditional single-objective calibration techniques aimed to reduce errors in runoff simulations do not necessarily improve intermodel agreement (i.e., same outputs from different hydrologic models) in projected changes of some hydrological processes such as evapotranspiration or snowpack.

Full access
Roy Rasmussen
,
Bruce Baker
,
John Kochendorfer
,
Tilden Meyers
,
Scott Landolt
,
Alexandre P. Fischer
,
Jenny Black
,
Julie M. Thériault
,
Paul Kucera
,
David Gochis
,
Craig Smith
,
Rodica Nitu
,
Mark Hall
,
Kyoko Ikeda
, and
Ethan Gutmann

This paper presents recent efforts to understand the relative accuracies of different instrumentation and gauges with various windshield configurations to measure snowfall. Results from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Marshall Field Site will be highlighted. This site hosts a test bed to assess various solid precipitation measurement techniques and is a joint collaboration between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NCAR, the National Weather Service (NWS), and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The collaboration involves testing new gauges and other solid precipitation measurement techniques in comparison with World Meteorological Organization (WMO) reference snowfall measurements. This assessment is critical for any ongoing studies and applications, such as climate monitoring and aircraft deicing, that rely on accurate and consistent precipitation measurements.

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Lulin Xue
,
Courtney Weeks
,
Sisi Chen
,
Sarah A. Tessendorf
,
Roy M. Rasmussen
,
Kyoko Ikeda
,
Branko Kosovic
,
Dalton Behringer
,
Jeffery R. French
,
Katja Friedrich
,
Troy J. Zaremba
,
Robert M. Rauber
,
Christian P. Lackner
,
Bart Geerts
,
Derek Blestrud
,
Melvin Kunkel
,
Nick Dawson
, and
Shaun Parkinson

Abstract

A dry-air intrusion induced by the tropopause folding split the deep cloud into two layers resulting in a shallow orographic cloud with a supercooled liquid cloud top at around −15°C and an ice cloud above it on 19 January 2017 during the Seeded and Natural Orographic Wintertime Clouds: The Idaho Experiment (SNOWIE). The airborne AgI seeding of this case was simulated by the WRF Weather Modification (WRF-WxMod) Model with different configurations. Simulations at different grid spacing, driven by different reanalysis data, using different model physics were conducted to explore the ability of WRF-WxMod to capture the properties of natural and seeded clouds. The detailed model–observation comparisons show that the simulation driven by ERA5 data, using Thompson–Eidhammer microphysics with 30% of the CCN climatology, best captured the observed cloud structure and supercooled liquid water properties. The ability of the model to correctly capture the wind field was critical for successful simulation of the seeding plume locations. The seeding plume features and ice number concentrations within them from the large-eddy simulations (LES) are in better agreement with observations than non-LES runs mostly due to weaker AgI dispersion associated with the finer grid spacing. Seeding effects on precipitation amount and impacted areas from LES seeding simulations agreed well with radar-derived values. This study shows that WRF-WxMod is able to simulate and quantify observed features of natural and seeded clouds given that critical observations are available to validate the model. Observation-constrained seeding ensemble simulations are proposed to quantify the AgI seeding impacts on wintertime orographic clouds.

Significance Statement

Recent observational work has demonstrated that the impact of airborne glaciogenic seeding of orographic supercooled liquid clouds is detectable and can be quantified in terms of the extra ground precipitation. This study aims, for the first time, to simulate this seeding impact for one well-observed case. The stakes are high: if the model performs well in this case, then seasonal simulations can be conducted with appropriate configurations after validations against observations, to determine the impact of a seeding program on the seasonal mountain snowpack and runoff, with more fidelity than ever. High–resolution weather simulations inherently carry uncertainty. Within the envelope of this uncertainty, the model compares very well to the field observations.

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