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Kenneth S. Gage
and
Earl E. Gossard

Abstract

This review begins with a brief look at the early perspectives on turbulence and the role of Dave Atlas in the unfolding of mysteries concerning waves and turbulence as seen by powerful radars. The remainder of the review is concerned with recent developments that have resulted in part from several decades of radar and Doppler radar profiler research that have been built upon the earlier foundation.

A substantial part of this review is concerned with evaluating the intensity of atmospheric turbulence. The refractivity turbulence structure-function parameter C2n , where n is radio refractive index, is a common metric for evaluating the intensity of refractivity turbulence and progress has been made in evaluating its climatology. The eddy dissipation rate is a common measure of the intensity of turbulence and a key parameter in the Kolmogorov theory for locally homogeneous isotropic turbulence. Much progress has been made in the measurement of the eddy dissipation rate under a variety of meteorological conditions including within clouds and in the presence of precipitation. Recently, a new approach using dual frequencies has been utilized with improved results.

It has long been recognized that atmospheric turbulence especially under hydrostatically stable conditions is nonhomogeneous and layered. The layering means that the eddy dissipation and eddy diffusivity is highly variable especially in the vertical. There is ample observational evidence that layered fine structure is responsible for the aspect sensitive echoes observed by vertically directed very high frequency VHF profilers. In situ observations by several groups have verified that coherent submeter-scale structure is present in the refractivity field sufficient to account for the “clear air” radar echoes. However, despite some progress there is still no consensus on how these coherent structures are produced and maintained.

Advances in numerical modeling have led to new insights by simulating the structures observed by radars. This has been done utilizing direct numerical simulation (DNS) and large eddy simulation (LES). While DNS is especially powerful for examining the breaking of internal waves and the transition to turbulence, LES had been especially valuable in modeling the atmospheric boundary layer.

Internal gravity waves occupy the band of intrinsic frequencies bounded above by the Brunt–Väisälä frequency and below by the inertial frequency. These waves have many sources and several studies in the past decade have improved our understanding of their origin. Observational studies have shown that the amplitude of the mesoscale spectrum of motions is greater over mountainous regions than over flat terrain or oceans. Thus, it would appear that flow over nonuniform terrain is an important source for waves. Several numerical studies have successfully simulated the generation of internal waves from convection. Most of these are believed to result from deep convection with substantial wave motion extending into the upper troposphere, stratosphere, and mesosphere. Gravity waves known as convection waves are often seen in the stable free atmosphere that overlay convective boundary layers.

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George C. Reid
and
Kenneth S. Gage

Abstract

The existence of an annual variation in height and temperature of the tropopause over tropical regions has long been recognized, but has not been fully explained. In this paper it is proposed that the variation is a fairly direct response to the annual variation in average tropical surface insolation. The variation in insolation causes a corresponding annual cycle in average tropical sea surface temperature with a total range of order 1 K. The consequent variation in absolute humidity in turn produces an annual variation in upper tropospheric potential temperatures, and hence in the height and temperature of the tropopause.

The physical link between the surface and the tropopause is provided by convection in the cores of the giant cumulonimbus clouds (hot towers) of the tropical oceanic regions, in which air parcels can achieve the maximum possible heating by release of latent heat. The process is modeled quantitatively in a simplified way, and excellent agreement is found between the predicted and observed phase and amplitude of the annual variation in tropopause potential temperature.

Since the regular seasonal variation in insolation is relatively small in the tropics, the annual variation in sun-earth distance is an important factor in the variation of surface insolation. The annual cycle in the properties of the tropical tropopause thus provides the first identifiable effect of the earth's orbital eccentricity on climate parameters.

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Kenneth S. Gage
and
William H. Jasperson

The METRAC positioning system is a ground-based radio location system that makes use of the Doppler principle in order to track an inexpensive, expendable transmitter. A prototype system has recently been built and evaluated for the Environmental Protection Agency for possible use in the Regional Air Pollution Study Program. This paper presents a brief description of the METRAC system and some of the results of a field test of the prototype system conducted in Minneapolis. The field test consisted of a comparison of wind profiles derived from the METRAC system with wind profiles derived from simultaneous rawinsonde and theodolite tracking. The results of this test demonstrate the great accuracy and high-resolution of winds measured by the prototype system.

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Christopher R. Williams
,
Warner L. Ecklund
, and
Kenneth S. Gage

Abstract

An algorithm has been developed that classifies precipitating clouds into either stratiform, mixed stratiform/convective, deep convective, or shallow convective clouds by analyzing the vertical structure of reflectivity, velocity, and spectral width derived from measurements made with the vertical beam of a 915-MHz Doppler wind profiler. The precipitating clouds classified as stratiform and convective clouds match the physical and radar properties deduced by Doppler weather radars in the GATE and EMEX programs. The mixed stratiform/convective cloud category is a hybrid regime containing a melting-layer signature associated with stratiform clouds yet is turbulent above the melting level similar to convective clouds. Shallow convective clouds have hydrometeors confined entirely below the melting level implying that warm rain processes are occurring exclusively. The algorithm is illustrated by classifying precipitating clouds from 10 months of observations at Manus Island (2°S, 147°E) in the western Pacific. The sensitivity of the algorithm to threshold criteria is investigated using the Manus Island data.

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Christopher R. Williams
,
Kenneth S. Gage
,
Wallace Clark
, and
Paul Kucera

Abstract

This paper describes a method of absolutely calibrating and routinely monitoring the reflectivity calibration from a scanning weather radar using a vertically profiling radar that has been absolutely calibrated using a collocated surface disdrometer. The three instruments have different temporal and spatial resolutions, and the concept of upscaling is used to relate the small resolution volume disdrometer observations with the large resolution volume scanning radar observations. This study uses observations collected from a surface disdrometer, two profiling radars, and the National Weather Service (NWS) Weather Surveillance Radar-1988 Doppler (WSR-88D) scanning weather radar during the Texas–Florida Underflight-phase B (TEFLUN-B) ground validation field campaign held in central Florida during August and September 1998.

The statistics from the 2062 matched profiling and scanning radar observations during this 2-month period indicate that the WSR-88D radar had a reflectivity 0.7 dBZ higher than the disdrometer-calibrated profiler, the standard deviation was 2.4 dBZ, and the 95% confidence interval was 0.1 dBZ. This study implies that although there is large variability between individual matched observations, the precision of a series of observations is good, allowing meaningful comparisons useful for calibration and monitoring.

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Robert Schafer
,
Susan K. Avery
, and
Kenneth S. Gage

Abstract

VHF wind profiler measurements of zonal and meridional winds are compared with the NCEP–NCAR reanalysis at sites in the tropical Pacific. By December 1999 the profilers at Darwin, Australia, and Biak, Indonesia, in the western Pacific; Christmas Island, Kiribati, in the central Pacific; and Piura Peru, in the eastern Pacific had collected between 8 and 13 yr of nearly continuous data. While these profilers routinely observe winds up to about 20 km, only winds at Christmas Island are assimilated into the reanalysis. The long period of profiler operation provides an opportunity to study differences between the profiler and reanalysis winds in the equatorial Pacific, a region with geographically sparse observations. Mean and seasonal mean zonal and meridional winds are used to identify differences in the profiler and reanalysis winds. Two potential causes for the discrepancy between profiler and reanalysis winds are identified. The first of these is related to different spatial and temporal characteristics of the reanalysis and profiler data. The second cause is the geographical sparseness of rawinsonde data, and not assimilating wind profiler observations. The closest agreement between the mean and seasonal mean zonal winds was found at Christmas Island, a site at which profiler winds are assimilated. A good agreement between reanalysis and profiler meridional and zonal winds is also shown at Darwin, where nearby rawinsonde observations are available. The poorest agreement was found at Piura (where profiler winds are not assimilated), the closest rawinsonde is almost 2000 km from the profiler site, and topography is not adequately resolved in the reanalysis.

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Ali Tokay
,
David A. Short
,
Christopher R. Williams
,
Warner L. Ecklund
, and
Kenneth S. Gage

Abstract

The motivation for this research is to move in the direction of improved algorithms for the remote sensing of rainfall, which are crucial for meso- and large-scale circulation studies and climate applications through better determinations of precipitation type and latent heating profiles. Toward this end a comparison between two independent techniques, designed to classify precipitation type from 1) a disdrometer and 2) a 915-MHz wind profiler, is presented, based on simultaneous measurements collected at the same site during the Intensive Observing Period of the Tropical Ocean Global Atmosphere Coupled Ocean–Atmosphere Response Experiment. Disdrometer-derived quantities such as differences in drop size distribution parameters, particularly the intercept parameter N 0 and rainfall rate, were used to classify rainfall as stratiform or convective. At the same time, profiler-derived quantities, namely, Doppler velocity, equivalent reflectivity, and spectral width, from Doppler spectra were used to classify precipitation type in four categories: shallow convective, deep convective, mixed convective–stratiform, and stratiform.

Overall agreement between the two algorithms is found to be reasonable. Given the disdrometer stratiform classification, the mean profile of reflectivity shows a distinct bright band and associated large vertical gradient in Doppler velocity, both indicators of stratiform rain. For the disdrometer convective classification the mean profile of reflectivity lacks a bright band, while the vertical gradient in Doppler velocity below the melting level is opposite to the stratiform case. Given the profiler classifications, in the order shallow–deep–mixed–stratiform, the composite raindrop spectra for a rainfall rate of 5 mm h−1 show an increase in D 0, the median volume diameter, consistent with the dominant microphysical processes responsible for drop formation. Nevertheless, the intercomparison does reveal some limitations in the classification methodology utilizing the disdrometer or profiler algorithms in isolation. In particular, 1) the disdrometer stratiform classification includes individual cases in which the vertical profiles appear convective, but these usually occur at times when the disdrometer classification is highly variable; 2) the profiler classification scheme also appears to classify precipitation too frequently as stratiform by including cases that have small vertical Doppler velocity gradients at the melting level but no bright band; and 3) the profiler classification scheme includes a category of mixed (stratiform–convective) precipitation that has some features in common with deep convection (e.g., enhanced spectral width above the melting level) but other features in common with stratiform precipitation (e.g., well-developed melting layer signature). Comparison of the profiler-derived vertical structure with disdrometer-determined rain rates reveals that almost all cases of rain rates greater than 10 mm h−1 are convective. For rain rates less than 5 mm h−1 all four profiler-determined precipitation classes are well represented.

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Stephen M. Sekelsky
,
Warner L. Ecklund
,
John M. Firda
,
Kenneth S. Gage
, and
Robert E. McIntosh

Abstract

Multifrequency radar measurements collected at 2.8 (S band), 33.12 (Ka band), and 94.92 GHz (W band) are processed using a neural network to estimate median particle size and peak number concentration in ice-phase clouds composed of dry crystals or aggregates. The model data used to train the neural network assume a gamma particle size distribution function and a size–density relationship having decreasing density with size. Results for the available frequency combinations show sensitivity to particle size for distributions with median volume diameters greater than approximately 0.2 mm.

Measurements are presented from the Maritime Continent Thunderstorm Experiment, which was held near Darwin, Australia, during November and December 1995. The University of Massachusetts—Amherst 33.12/94.92-GHz Cloud Profiling Radar System, the NOAA 2.8-GHz profiler, and other sensors were clustered near the village of Garden Point, Melville Island, where numerous convective storms were observed. Attenuation losses by the NOAA radar signal are small over the pathlengths considered so the cloud-top reflectivity values at 2.8 GHz are used to remove propagation path losses from the higher-frequency measurements. The 2.8-GHz measurements also permit estimation of larger particle diameters than is possible using only 33.12 and 94.92 GHz. The results suggest that the median particle size tends to decrease with height for stratiform cloud cases. However, this trend is not observed for convective cloud cases where measurements indicate that large particles can exist even near the cloud top.

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Kenneth S. Gage
,
Christopher R. Williams
,
Warner L. Ecklund
, and
Paul E. Johnston

Abstract

A 2835-MHz (10.6-cm wavelength) profiler and a 920-MHz (32.6-cm wavelength) profiler were collocated by the NOAA Aeronomy Laboratory at Garden Point, Australia, in the Tiwi Islands during the Maritime Continent Thunderstorm Experiment (MCTEX) field campaign in November and December 1995. The two profilers were directed vertically and observed vertical velocities in the clear atmosphere and hydrometeor fall velocities in deep precipitating cloud systems. In the absence of Rayleigh scatterers, the profilers obtain backscattering from the refractive index irregularities created from atmospheric turbulence acting upon refractive index gradients. This kind of scattering is commonly referred to as Bragg scattering and is only weakly dependent on the radar wavelength provided the radar half-wavelength lies within the inertial subrange of homogeneous, isotropic turbulence. In the presence of hydrometeors the profilers observe Rayleigh backscattering from hydrometeors much as weather radars do and this backscatter is very dependent upon radar wavelength, strongly favoring the shorter wavelength profiler resulting in a 20-dB enhancement of the ability of the 2835-MHz profiler to observe hydrometeors. This paper presents observations of equivalent reflectivity, Doppler velocity, and spectral width made by the collocated profilers during MCTEX. Differential reflectivity is used to diagnose the type of echo observed by the profilers in the spectral moment data. When precipitation or other particulate backscatter is dominant, the equivalent reflectivities are essentially the same for both profilers. When Bragg scattering is the dominant process, equivalent reflectivity observed by the 1-GHz profiler exceeds the equivalent reflectivity observed by the 3-GHz profiler by approximately 18 dBZe. However, when the 3-GHz profiler half-wavelength is smaller than the inner scale of turbulence, the equivalent reflectivity difference exceeds 18 dBZe, and when both Rayleigh scattering and Bragg scattering are observed simultaneously, the equivalent reflectivity difference is less than 18 dBZe. The results obtained confirm the capability of two collocated profilers to unambiguously identify the type of echo being observed and hence enable the segregation of “clear air” and precipitation echoes for studies of atmospheric dynamics and precipitating cloud systems.

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Christopher R. Williams
,
Allen B. White
,
Kenneth S. Gage
, and
F. Martin Ralph

Abstract

In support of the 2004 North American Monsoon Experiment (NAME) field campaign, NOAA established and maintained a field site about 100 km north of Mazatlán, Mexico, consisting of wind profilers, precipitation profilers, surface upward–downward-looking radiometers, and a 10-m meteorological tower to observe the environment within the North American monsoon. Three objectives of this NOAA project are discussed in this paper: 1) to observe the vertical structure of precipitating cloud systems as they passed over the NOAA profiler site, 2) to estimate the vertical air motion and the raindrop size distribution from near the surface to just below the melting layer, and 3) to better understand the microphysical processes associated with stratiform rain containing well-defined radar bright bands.

To provide a climatological context for the profiler observations at the field site, the profiler reflectivity distributions were compared with Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) Precipitation Radar (PR) reflectivity distributions from the 2004 season over the NAME domain as well as from the 1998–2005 seasons. This analysis places the NAME 2004 observations into the context of other monsoon seasons. It also provides a basis for evaluating the representativeness of the structure of the precipitation systems sampled at this location. The number of rain events observed by the TRMM PR is dependent on geography; the land region, which includes portions of the Sierra Madre Occidental, has more events than the coast and gulf regions. Conversely, from this study it is found that the frequencies of occurrence of stratiform rain and reflectivity profiles with radar bright bands are mostly independent of region. The analysis also revealed that the reflectivity distribution at each height has more year-to-year variability than region-to-region variability. These findings suggest that in cases with a well-defined bright band, the vertical profile of the reflectivity relative to the height of the bright band is similar over the gulf, coast, and land regions.

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