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  • Author or Editor: Claire Pettersen x
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Julia A. Shates, Claire Pettersen, Tristan S. L’Ecuyer, Steven J. Cooper, Mark S. Kulie, and Norman B. Wood


The prevailing snowfall regimes at two Scandinavian sites, Haukeliseter, Norway, and Kiruna, Sweden, are documented using ground-based in situ and remote sensing methods. Micro Rain Radar (MRR) profiles indicate three distinct snowfall regimes occur at both sites: shallow, deep, and intermittent snowfall. The shallow snowfall regime produces the lowest mean snowfall rates and radar echo tops are confined below 1.5 km above ground level (AGL). Shallow snowfall occurs under areas of large-scale subsidence with a moist boundary layer and dry air aloft. The atmospheric ridge coinciding with shallow snowfall is highly anomalous over Haukeliseter but is more common in Kiruna where shallow snowfall was frequently observed. The shallow snowfall particle size distributions (PSDs) are broad with lower particle concentrations than other regimes, especially small particles. Deep snowfall events exhibit MRR profiles that extend above 2 km AGL and tend to be associated with weak low pressure and high relative humidity throughout the troposphere. The PSDs in deep events are narrower with high concentrations of small particles. Increasing MRR reflectivity toward the surface suggests aggregation as a possible growth process during deep snowfall events. The heaviest mean snowfall rates are associated with intermittent events that are characterized by deep MRR profiles but have variations in intensity and height. The intermittent regime is associated with anomalous, deep low pressure along the coast of Norway and enhanced relative humidity at lower levels. The PSDs reveal high concentrations of small and large particles. The analysis reveals that there are unique characteristics of shallow, deep, and intermittent snowfall regimes that are common between the sites.

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Claire E. Schirle, Steven J. Cooper, Mareile Astrid Wolff, Claire Pettersen, Norman B. Wood, Tristan S. L’Ecuyer, Trond Ilmo, and Knut Nygård


The ability of in situ snowflake microphysical observations to constrain estimates of surface snowfall accumulations derived from coincident, ground-based radar observations is explored. As part of the High-Latitude Measurement of Snowfall (HiLaMS) field campaign, a Micro Rain Radar (MRR), Precipitation Imaging Package (PIP), and Multi-Angle Snow Camera (MASC) were deployed to the Haukeliseter Test Site run by the Norwegian Meteorological Institute during winter 2016/17. This measurement site lies near an elevation of 1000 m in the mountains of southern Norway and houses a double-fence automated reference (DFAR) snow gauge and a comprehensive set of meteorological observations. MASC and PIP observations provided estimates of particle size distribution (PSD), fall speed, and habit. These properties were used as input for a snowfall retrieval algorithm using coincident MRR reflectivity measurements. Retrieved surface snowfall accumulations were evaluated against DFAR observations to quantify retrieval performance as a function of meteorological conditions for the Haukeliseter site. These analyses found differences of less than 10% between DFAR- and MRR-retrieved estimates over the field season when using either PIP or MASC observations for low wind “upslope” events. Larger biases of at least 50% were found for high wind “pulsed” events likely because of sampling limitations in the in situ observations used to constrain the retrieval. However, assumptions of MRR Doppler velocity for mean particle fall speed and a temperature-based PSD parameterization reduced this difference to +16% for the pulsed events. Although promising, these results ultimately depend upon selection of a snowflake particle model that is well matched to scene environmental conditions.

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Claire Pettersen, Mark S. Kulie, Larry F. Bliven, Aronne J. Merrelli, Walter A. Petersen, Timothy J. Wagner, David B. Wolff, and Norman B. Wood


Presented are four winter seasons of data from an enhanced precipitation instrument suite based at the National Weather Service (NWS) Office in Marquette (MQT), Michigan (250–500 cm of annual snow accumulation). In 2014 the site was augmented with a Micro Rain Radar (MRR) and a Precipitation Imaging Package (PIP). MRR observations are utilized to partition large-scale synoptically driven (deep) and surface-forced (shallow) snow events. Coincident PIP and NWS MQT meteorological surface observations illustrate different characteristics with respect to snow event category. Shallow snow events are often extremely shallow, with MRR-indicated precipitation heights of less than 1500 m above ground level. Large vertical reflectivity gradients indicate efficient particle growth, and increased boundary layer turbulence inferred from observations of spectral width implies increased aggregation in shallow snow events. Shallow snow events occur 2 times as often as deep events; however, both categories contribute approximately equally to estimated annual accumulation. PIP measurements reveal distinct regime-dependent snow microphysical differences, with shallow snow events having broader particle size distributions and comparatively fewer small particles and deep snow events having narrower particle size distributions and comparatively more small particles. In addition, coincident surface meteorological measurements indicate that most shallow snow events are associated with surface winds originating from the northwest (over Lake Superior), cold temperatures, and relatively high surface pressures, which are characteristics that are consistent with cold-air outbreaks. Deep snow events have meteorologically distinct conditions that are accordant with midlatitude cyclones and frontal structures, with mostly southwest surface winds, warmer temperatures approaching freezing, and lower surface pressures.

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