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Daniel Breed, Roy Rasmussen, Courtney Weeks, Bruce Boe, and Terry Deshler

Abstract

An overview of the Wyoming Weather Modification Pilot Project (WWMPP) is presented. This project, funded by the State of Wyoming, is designed to evaluate the effectiveness of cloud seeding with silver iodide in the Medicine Bow and Sierra Madre Ranges of south-central Wyoming. The statistical evaluation is based on a randomized crossover design for the two barriers. The description of the experimental design includes the rationale behind the design choice, the criteria for case selection, facilities for operations and evaluation, and the statistical analysis approach. Initial estimates of the number of cases needed for statistical significance used historical Snow Telemetry (SNOTEL) data (1987–2006), prior to the beginning of the randomized seeding experiment. Refined estimates were calculated using high-resolution precipitation data collected during the initial seasons of the project (2007–10). Comparing the sample size estimates from these two data sources, the initial estimates are reduced to 236 (110) for detecting a 10% (15%) change. The sample size estimates are highly dependent on the assumed effect of seeding, on the correlations between the two target barriers and between the target and control sites, and on the variance of the response variable, namely precipitation. In addition to the statistical experiment, a wide range of physical studies and ancillary analyses are being planned and conducted.

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James W. Wilson, Charles A. Knight, Sarah A. Tessendorf, and Courtney Weeks

Abstract

During the Queensland Cloud Seeding Research Program, the “CP2” polarimetric radar parameter differential radar reflectivity Z dr was used to examine the raindrop size evolution in both maritime and continental clouds. The focus of this paper is to examine the natural variability of the drop size distribution. The primary finding is that there are two basic raindrop size evolutions, one associated with continental air masses characterized by relatively high aerosol concentrations and long air trajectories over land and the other associated with maritime air masses with lower aerosol concentrations. The size evolution difference is during the growth stage of the radar echoes. The differential radar reflectivity in the growing continental clouds is dominated by large raindrops, whereas in the maritime clouds differential reflectivity is dominated by small raindrops and drizzle. The drop size evolution in many of the maritime air masses was very similar to those observed in the maritime air of the Caribbean Sea observed with the NCAR S-band polarimetric radar (S-Pol) during the Rain in Cumulus over the Ocean (RICO) experiment. Because the tops of the Queensland continental clouds ascended almost 2 times as fast as the maritime ones in their growth stage, both dynamical and aerosol factors may be important for the systematic difference in drop size evolution. Recommendations are advanced for future field programs to understand better the causes for the observed variability in drop size evolution. Also, considering the natural variability in drop size evolution, comments are provided on conducting and evaluating cloud seeding experiments.

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Thomas O. Mazzetti, Bart Geerts, Lulin Xue, Sarah Tessendorf, Courtney Weeks, and Yonggang Wang

Abstract

Glaciogenic cloud seeding has long been practiced as a way to increase water availability in arid regions, such as the interior western United States. Many seeding programs in this region target cold-season orographic clouds with ground-based silver iodide generators. Here, the “seedability” (defined as the fraction of time that conditions are suitable for ground-based seeding) is evaluated in this region from 10 years of hourly output from a regional climate model with a horizontal resolution of 4 km. Seedability criteria are based on temperature, presence of supercooled liquid water, and Froude number, which is computed here as a continuous field relative to the local terrain. The model’s supercooled liquid water compares reasonably well to microwave radiometer observations. Seedability peaks at 20%–30% for many mountain ranges in the cold season, with the best locations just upwind of crests, over the highest terrain in Colorado and Wyoming, as well as over ranges in the northwest interior. Mountains farther south are less frequently seedable, because of warmer conditions, but when they are, cloud supercooled liquid water content tends to be relatively high. This analysis is extended into a future climate, anticipated for later this century, with a mean temperature 2.0 K warmer than the historical climate. Seedability generally will be lower in this future warmer climate, especially in the most seedable areas, but, when seedable, clouds tend to contain slightly more supercooled liquid water.

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Roy M. Rasmussen, Sarah A. Tessendorf, Lulin Xue, Courtney Weeks, Kyoko Ikeda, Scott Landolt, Dan Breed, Terry Deshler, and Barry Lawrence

Abstract

The Wyoming Weather Modification Pilot Project randomized cloud seeding experiment was a crossover statistical experiment conducted over two mountain ranges in eastern Wyoming and lasted for 6 years (2008–13). The goal of the experiment was to determine if cloud seeding of orographic barriers could increase snowfall and snowpack. The experimental design included triply redundant snow gauges deployed in a target–control configuration, covariate snow gauges to account for precipitation variability, and ground-based seeding with silver iodide (AgI). The outcomes of this experiment are evaluated with the statistical–physical experiment design and with ensemble modeling. The root regression ratio (RRR) applied to 118 experimental units provided insufficient statistical evidence (p value of 0.28) to reject the null hypothesis that there was no effect from ground-based cloud seeding. Ensemble modeling estimates of the impact of ground-based seeding provide an alternate evaluation of the 6-yr experiment. The results of the model ensemble approach with and without seeding estimated a mean enhancement of precipitation of 5%, with an inner-quartile range of 3%–7%. Estimating the impact on annual precipitation over these mountain ranges requires results from another study that indicated that approximately 30% of the annual precipitation results from clouds identified as seedable within the seeding experiment. Thus the seeding impact is on the order of 1.5% of the annual precipitation, compared to 1% for the statistical–physical experiment, which was not sufficient to reject the null hypothesis. These results provide an estimate of the impact of ground-based cloud seeding in the Sierra Madre and Medicine Bow Mountains in Wyoming that accounts for uncertainties in both initial conditions and model physics.

Open access
Sarah A. Tessendorf, Allyson Rugg, Alexei Korolev, Ivan Heckman, Courtney Weeks, Gregory Thompson, Darcy Jacobson, Dan Adriaansen, and Julie Haggerty

Abstract

Supercooled large drop (SLD) icing poses a unique hazard for aircraft and has resulted in new regulations regarding aircraft certification to fly in regions of known or forecast SLD icing conditions. The new regulations define two SLD icing categories based upon the maximum supercooled liquid water drop diameter (Dmax): freezing drizzle (100–500 μm) and freezing rain (>500 μm). Recent upgrades to U.S. operational numerical weather prediction models lay a foundation to provide more relevant aircraft icing guidance including the potential to predict explicit drop size. The primary focus of this paper is to evaluate a proposed method for estimating the maximum drop size from model forecast data to differentiate freezing drizzle from freezing rain conditions. Using in situ cloud microphysical measurements collected in icing conditions during two field campaigns between January and March 2017, this study shows that the High-Resolution Rapid Refresh model is capable of distinguishing SLD icing categories of freezing drizzle and freezing rain using a Dmax extracted from the rain category of the microphysics output. It is shown that the extracted Dmax from the model correctly predicted the observed SLD icing category as much as 99% of the time when the HRRR accurately forecast SLD conditions; however, performance varied by the method to define Dmax and by the field campaign dataset used for verification.

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Steven D. Miller, Courtney E. Weeks, Randy G. Bullock, John M. Forsythe, Paul A. Kucera, Barbara G. Brown, Cory A. Wolff, Philip T. Partain, Andrew S. Jones, and David B. Johnson

Abstract

Clouds pose many operational hazards to the aviation community in terms of ceilings and visibility, turbulence, and aircraft icing. Realistic descriptions of the three-dimensional (3D) distribution and temporal evolution of clouds in numerical weather prediction models used for flight planning and routing are therefore of central importance. The introduction of satellite-based cloud radar (CloudSat) and Cloud–Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observations (CALIPSO) sensors to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration A-Train is timely in light of these needs but requires a new paradigm of model-evaluation tools that are capable of exploiting the vertical-profile information. Early results from the National Center for Atmospheric Research Model Evaluation Toolkit (MET), augmented to work with the emergent satellite-based active sensor observations, are presented here. Existing horizontal-plane statistical evaluation techniques have been adapted to operate on observations in the vertical plane and have been extended to 3D object evaluations, leveraging blended datasets from the active and passive A-Train sensors. Case studies of organized synoptic-scale and mesoscale distributed cloud systems are presented to illustrate the multiscale utility of the MET tools. Definition of objects on the basis of radar-reflectivity thresholds was found to be strongly dependent on the model’s ability to resolve details of the cloud’s internal hydrometeor distribution. Contoured-frequency-by-altitude diagrams provide a useful mechanism for evaluating the simulated and observed 3D distributions for regional domains. The expanded MET provides a new dimension to model evaluation and positions the community to better exploit active-sensor satellite observing systems that are slated for launch in the near future.

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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.

Restricted access
Sarah A. Tessendorf, Jeffrey R. French, Katja Friedrich, Bart Geerts, Robert M. Rauber, Roy M. Rasmussen, Lulin Xue, Kyoko Ikeda, Derek R. Blestrud, Melvin L. Kunkel, Shaun Parkinson, Jefferson R. Snider, Joshua Aikins, Spencer Faber, Adam Majewski, Coltin Grasmick, Philip T. Bergmaier, Andrew Janiszeski, Adam Springer, Courtney Weeks, David J. Serke, and Roelof Bruintjes

Abstract

The Seeded and Natural Orographic Wintertime Clouds: The Idaho Experiment (SNOWIE) project aims to study the impacts of cloud seeding on winter orographic clouds. The field campaign took place in Idaho between 7 January and 17 March 2017 and employed a comprehensive suite of instrumentation, including ground-based radars and airborne sensors, to collect in situ and remotely sensed data in and around clouds containing supercooled liquid water before and after seeding with silver iodide aerosol particles. The seeding material was released primarily by an aircraft. It was hypothesized that the dispersal of the seeding material from aircraft would produce zigzag lines of silver iodide as it dispersed downwind. In several cases, unambiguous zigzag lines of reflectivity were detected by radar, and in situ measurements within these lines have been examined to determine the microphysical response of the cloud to seeding. The measurements from SNOWIE aim to address long-standing questions about the efficacy of cloud seeding, starting with documenting the physical chain of events following seeding. The data will also be used to evaluate and improve computer modeling parameterizations, including a new cloud-seeding parameterization designed to further evaluate and quantify the impacts of cloud seeding.

Open access