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  • Author or Editor: Michael M. French x
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Yu-Chieng Liou, Howard B. Bluestein, Michael M. French, and Zachary B. Wienhoff


A three-dimensional data assimilation (3DVar) least squares–type single-Doppler velocity retrieval (SDVR) algorithm is utilized to retrieve the wind field of a tornadic supercell using data collected by a mobile, phased-array, Doppler radar [Mobile Weather Radar (MWR) 05XP] with very high temporal resolution (6 s). It is found that the cyclonic circulation in the hook-echo region can be successfully recovered by the SDVR algorithm. The quality of the SDVR analyses is evaluated by dual-Doppler syntheses using data collected by two mobile Doppler radars [Doppler on Wheels 6 and 7 (DOW6 and DOW7, respectively)]. A comparison between the SDVR analyses and dual-Doppler syntheses confirms the conclusion reached by an earlier theoretical analysis that because of the temporally discrete nature of the radar data, the wind speed retrieved by single-Doppler radar is always underestimated, and this underestimate occurs more significantly for the azimuthal (crossbeam) wind component than for the radial (along beam) component. However, the underestimate can be mitigated by increasing the radar data temporal resolution. When the radar data are collected at a sufficiently high rate, the azimuthal wind component may be overestimated. Even with data from a rapid scan, phased-array, Doppler radar, our study indicates that it is still necessary to calculate the SDVR in an optimal moving frame of reference. Finally, the SDVR algorithm’s robustness is demonstrated. Even with a temporal resolution (2 min) much lower than that of the phased-array radar, the cyclonic flow structure in the hook-echo region can still be retrieved through SDVR using data observed by DOW6 or DOW7, although a difference in the retrieved fields does exist. A further analysis indicates that this difference is caused by the location of the radars.

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Howard B. Bluestein, Jana B. Houser, Michael M. French, Jeffrey C. Snyder, George D. Emmitt, Ivan PopStefanija, Chad Baldi, and Robert T. Bluth


During the Second Verification of the Origins of Rotation in Tornadoes Experiment (VORTEX2), in the spring of 2010, a mobile and pulsed Doppler lidar system [the Truck-Mounted Wind Observing Lidar Facility (TWOLF)] mounted on a truck along with a mobile, phased-array, X-band Doppler radar system [Mobile Weather Radar–2005 X-band, phased array (MWR-05XP)] was used to complement Doppler velocity coverage in clear air near the radar–lidar facility and to provide high-spatial-resolution vertical cross sections of the Doppler wind field in the clear-air boundary layer near and in supercells. It is thought that the magnitude and direction of vertical shear and possibly the orientation and spacing of rolls in the boundary layer have significant effects on both supercell and tornado behavior; MWR-05XP and TWOLF can provide data that can be used to measure vertical shear and detect rolls. However, there are very few detailed, time-dependent and spatially varying observations throughout the depth of the boundary layer of supercells and tornadoes.

This paper discusses lidar and radar data collected in or near six supercells. Features seen by the lidar included gust fronts, horizontal convective rolls, and small-scale vortices. The lidar proved useful at detecting high-spatial-resolution, clear-air returns at close range, where the radar was incapable of doing so, thus providing a more complete picture of the boundary layer environment ahead of supercells. The lidar was especially useful in areas where there was ground-clutter contamination. When there was precipitation and probably insects, and beyond the range of the lidar, where there was no ground-clutter contamination, the radar was the more useful instrument. Suggestions are made for improving the system and its use in studying the tornado boundary layer.

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