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Virendra P. Ghate
,
Mark A. Miller
, and
Ping Zhu

Abstract

Marine nonprecipitating cumulus topped boundary layers (CTBLs) observed in a tropical and in a trade wind region are contrasted based on their cloud macrophysical, dynamical, and radiative structures. Data from the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) observational site previously operating at Manus Island, Papua New Guinea, and data collected during the deployment of ARM Mobile Facility at the island of Graciosa, in the Azores, were used in this study. The tropical marine CTBLs were deeper, had higher surface fluxes and boundary layer radiative cooling, but lower wind speeds compared to their trade wind counterparts. The radiative velocity scale was 50%–70% of the surface convective velocity scale at both locations, highlighting the prominent role played by radiation in maintaining turbulence in marine CTBLs. Despite greater thicknesses, the chord lengths of tropical cumuli were on average lower than those of trade wind cumuli, and as a result of lower cloud cover, the hourly averaged (cloudy and clear) liquid water paths of tropical cumuli were lower than the trade wind cumuli. At both locations ~70% of the cloudy profiles were updrafts, while the average amount of updrafts near cloud base stronger than 1 m s−1 was ~22% in tropical cumuli and ~12% in the trade wind cumuli. The mean in-cloud radar reflectivity within updrafts and mean updraft velocity was higher in tropical cumuli than the trade wind cumuli. Despite stronger vertical velocities and a higher number of strong updrafts, due to lower cloud fraction, the updraft mass flux was lower in the tropical cumuli compared to the trade wind cumuli. The observations suggest that the tropical and trade wind marine cumulus clouds differ significantly in their macrophysical and dynamical structures.

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Mark A. Miller
,
Virendra P. Ghate
, and
Robert K. Zahn

Abstract

Continuous measurements of the shortwave (SW), longwave (LW), and net cross-atmosphere radiation flux divergence over the West African Sahel were made during the year 2006 using the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Mobile Facility (AMF) and the Geostationary Earth Radiation Budget (GERB) satellite. Accompanying AMF measurements enabled calculations of the LW, SW, and net top of the atmosphere (TOA) and surface cloud radiative forcing (CRF), which quantifies the radiative effects of cloud cover on the column boundaries. Calculations of the LW, SW, and net cloud radiative effect (CRE), which is the difference between the TOA and surface radiative flux divergences in all-sky and clear-sky conditions, quantify the radiative effects on the column itself. These measurements were compared to predictions in four global climate models (GCMs) used in the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change Fourth Assessment Report (IPCC AR4). All four GCMs produced wet and dry seasons, but reproducing the SW column radiative flux divergence was problematic in the GCMs and SW discrepancies translated into discrepancies in the net radiative flux divergence. Computing cloud-related quantities from the measurements produced yearly averages of the SW TOA CRF, surface CRF, and CRE of ~−19, −83, and 47 W m−2, respectively, and yearly averages of the LW TOA CRF, surface CRF, and CRE of ~39, 37, and 2 W m−2. These quantities were analyzed in two GCMs and compensating errors in the SW and LW clear-sky, cross-atmosphere radiative flux divergence were found to conspire to produce somewhat reasonable predictions of the net clear-sky divergence. Both GCMs underestimated the surface LW and SW CRF and predicted near-zero SW CRE when the measured values were substantially larger (~70 W m−2 maximum).

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Mark A. Miller
,
Michael P. Jensen
, and
Eugene E. Clothiaux

Abstract

Radiosonde, in situ, and surface-based remote sensor data from the Atlantic Stratocumulus Transition Experiment are used to study the diurnal cycle of cloud and thermodynamic structure. A cloud layer and decoupled subcloud layer separated by a stable transition layer, often observed in the vicinity of cumulus cloud base, characterizes the thermodynamic structure during the study period. The mode of cloud structure is cumulus with bases below decoupled stratus. Data are presented that support the hypothesis that diurnal variations in cumulus development are modulated by the stability in the transition layer.

The frequency of cumulus convection decreases during the afternoon, but mesoscale regions of vigorous cumulus with cloud tops overshooting the base of the trade inversion and increased surface drizzle rates are present during the late afternoon and early evening, when the transition layer is the most stable. It is postulated that mesoscale organization may be required to accumulate enough water vapor in the subcloud layer to produce the convective available potential energy needed for developing cumulus to overcome transition layer stability. The mesoscale regions appear to fit the description of cyclic cumulus convection proposed in a previous study, and this theory is expanded to account for diurnal variations in the stability of the transition layer. The occurrence of these mesoscale clusters of vigorous convection makes it difficult to determine if the latent heat flux in the cloud layer has actually decreased in the late afternoon and early evening, when the transition layer is the most stable.

Liquid water structure was examined and no pronounced diurnal signal was found. Results showed that clouds thicker than approximately 450 m tended to have subadiabatic integrated liquid water contents, presumably due to evaporation of drizzle in the subcloud layer, removal of liquid water at the surface, and the evaporation of cloud water at cloud top. A significant fraction of clouds less than 450 m thick produced liquid water contents that were greater than adiabatic, and there may be a physical mechanism that could produce such values in this cloud system (i.e., lateral detrainment of cloud water from convective elements mixing with existing liquid water in decoupled stratus or with liquid water detrained by nearby convective elements). Unfortunately, instrument limitations may have also produced these greater-than-adiabatic values and the extent of instrument artifacts in these results is unclear.

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Richard A. Fulton
,
Jay P. Breidenbach
,
Dong-Jun Seo
,
Dennis A. Miller
, and
Timothy O’Bannon

Abstract

A detailed description of the operational WSR-88D rainfall estimation algorithm is presented. This algorithm, called the Precipitation Processing System, produces radar-derived rainfall products in real time for forecasters in support of the National Weather Service’s warning and forecast missions. It transforms reflectivity factor measurements into rainfall accumulations and incorporates rain gauge data to improve the radar estimates. The products are used as guidance to issue flood watches and warnings to the public and as input into numerical hydrologic and atmospheric models. The processing steps to quality control and compute the rainfall estimates are described, and the current deficiencies and future plans for improvement are discussed.

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Virendra P. Ghate
,
Bruce A. Albrecht
,
Mark A. Miller
,
Alan Brewer
, and
Christopher W. Fairall

Abstract

Observations made during a 24-h period as part of the Variability of the American Monsoon Systems (VAMOS) Ocean–Cloud–Atmosphere–Land Study Regional Experiment (VOCALS-REx) are analyzed to study the radiation and turbulence associated with the stratocumulus-topped marine boundary layer (BL). The first 14 h exhibited a well-mixed (coupled) BL with an average cloud-top radiative flux divergence of ~130 W m−2; the BL was decoupled during the last 10 h with negligible radiative flux divergence. The averaged radiative cooling very close to the cloud top was −9.04 K h−1 in coupled conditions and −3.85 K h−1 in decoupled conditions. This is the first study that combined data from a vertically pointing Doppler cloud radar and a Doppler lidar to yield the vertical velocity structure of the entire BL. The averaged vertical velocity variance and updraft mass flux during coupled conditions were higher than those during decoupled conditions at all levels by a factor of 2 or more. The vertical velocity skewness was negative in the entire BL during coupled conditions, whereas it was weakly positive in the lower third of the BL and negative above during decoupled conditions. A formulation of velocity scale is proposed that includes the effect of cloud-top radiative cooling in addition to the surface buoyancy flux. When scaled by the velocity scale, the vertical velocity variance and coherent downdrafts had similar magnitude during the coupled and decoupled conditions. The coherent updrafts that exhibited a constant profile in the entire BL during both the coupled and decoupled conditions scaled well with the convective velocity scale to a value of ~0.5.

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Virendra P. Ghate
,
Mark A. Miller
,
Bruce A. Albrecht
, and
Christopher W. Fairall

Abstract

Stratocumulus-topped boundary layers (STBLs) observed in three different regions are described in the context of their thermodynamic and radiative properties. The primary dataset consists of 131 soundings from the southeastern Pacific (SEP), 90 soundings from the island of Graciosa (GRW) in the North Atlantic, and 83 soundings from the U.S. Southern Great Plains (SGP). A new technique that makes an attempt to preserve the depths of the sublayers within an STBL is proposed for averaging the profiles of thermodynamic and radiative variables. A one-dimensional radiative transfer model known as the Rapid Radiative Transfer Model was used to compute the radiative fluxes within the STBL. The SEP STBLs were characterized by a stronger and deeper inversion, together with thicker clouds, lower free-tropospheric moisture, and higher radiative flux divergence across the cloud layer, as compared to the GRW STBLs. Compared to the STBLs over the marine locations, the STBLs over SGP had higher wind shear and a negligible (−0.41 g kg−1) jump in mixing ratio across the inversion. Despite the differences in many of the STBL thermodynamic parameters, the differences in liquid water path at the three locations were statistically insignificant. The soundings were further classified as well mixed or decoupled based on the difference between the surface and cloud-base virtual potential temperature. The decoupled STBLs were deeper than the well-mixed STBLs at all three locations. Statistically insignificant differences in surface latent heat flux (LHF) between well-mixed and decoupled STBLs suggest that parameters other than LHF are responsible for producing decoupling.

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A. M. Rogerson
,
P. D. Miller
,
L. J. Pratt
, and
C. K. R. T. Jones

Abstract

Kinematic models predict that a coherent structure, such as a jet or an eddy, in an unsteady flow can exchange fluid with its surroundings. The authors consider the significance of this effect for a fully nonlinear, dynamically consistent, barotropic model of a meandering jet. The calculated volume transport associated with this fluid exchange is comparable to that of fluid crossing the Gulf Stream through the detachment of rings. Although the model is barotropic and idealized in other ways, the transport calculations suggest that this exchange mechanism may be important in lateral transport or potential vorticity budget analyses for the Gulf Stream and other oceanic jets. The numerically simulated meandering jet is obtained by allowing a small-amplitude unstable meander to grow until a saturated state occurs. The resulting flow is characterized by finite-amplitude meanders propagating with nearly constant speed, and the results clearly illustrate the stretching and stirring of fluid particles along the edges of the recirculation regions south of the meander crests and north of the troughs. The fluid exchange and resulting transport across boundaries separating regions of predominantly prograde, retrograde, and recirculating motion is quantified using a dynamical systems analysis. The geometrical structures that result from the analysis are shown to be closely correlated with regions of the flow that are susceptible to high potential vorticity dissipation. Moreover, in a related study this analysis has been used to effectively predict the entrainment and detrainment of particles to and from the jet.

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P. Kollias
,
E. E. Clothiaux
,
M. A. Miller
,
B. A. Albrecht
,
G. L. Stephens
, and
T. P. Ackerman

During the past 20 yr there has been substantial progress on the development and application of millimeter-wavelength (3.2 and 8.6 mm, corresponding to frequencies of 94 and 35 GHz) radars in atmospheric cloud research, boosted by continuous advancements in radar technology and the need to better understand clouds and their role in the Earth's climate. Applications of millimeter-wavelength radars range from detailed cloud and precipitation process studies to long-term monitoring activities that strive to improve our understanding of cloud processes over a wide range of spatial and temporal scales. These activities are the result of a long period of successful research, starting from the 1980s, in which research tools and sophisticated retrieval techniques were developed, tested, and evaluated in field experiments. This paper presents a cohesive, chronological overview of millimeter-wavelength radar advancements during this period and describes the potential of new applications of millimeter-wavelength radars on sophisticated platforms and the benefits of both lower- and higher-frequency radars for cloud and precipitation research.

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Eugene E. Clothiaux
,
Thomas P. Ackerman
,
Gerald G. Mace
,
Kenneth P. Moran
,
Roger T. Marchand
,
Mark A. Miller
, and
Brooks E. Martner

Abstract

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Program is deploying sensitive, millimeter-wave cloud radars at its Cloud and Radiation Test Bed (CART) sites in Oklahoma, Alaska, and the tropical western Pacific Ocean. The radars complement optical devices, including a Belfort or Vaisala laser ceilometer and a micropulse lidar, in providing a comprehensive source of information on the vertical distribution of hydrometeors overhead at the sites. An algorithm is described that combines data from these active remote sensors to produce an objective determination of hydrometeor height distributions and estimates of their radar reflectivities, vertical velocities, and Doppler spectral widths, which are optimized for accuracy. These data provide fundamental information for retrieving cloud microphysical properties and assessing the radiative effects of clouds on climate. The algorithm is applied to nine months of data from the CART site in Oklahoma for initial evaluation. Much of the algorithm’s calculations deal with merging and optimizing data from the radar’s four sequential operating modes, which have differing advantages and limitations, including problems resulting from range sidelobes, range aliasing, and coherent averaging. Two of the modes use advanced phase-coded pulse compression techniques to yield approximately 10 and 15 dB more sensitivity than is available from the two conventional pulse modes. Comparison of cloud-base heights from the Belfort ceilometer and the micropulse lidar confirms small biases found in earlier studies, but recent information about the ceilometer brings the agreement to within 20–30 m. Merged data of the radar’s modes were found to miss approximately 5.9% of the clouds detected by the laser systems. Using data from only the radar’s two less-sensitive conventional pulse modes would increase the missed detections to 22%–34%. A significant remaining problem is that the radar’s lower-altitude data are often contaminated with echoes from nonhydrometeor targets, such as insects.

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E. E. Clothiaux
,
M. A. Miller
,
B. A. Albrecht
,
T. P. Ackerman
,
J. Verlinde
,
D. M. Babb
,
R. M. Peters
, and
W. J. Syrett

Abstract

The performance of a 94-GHz radar is evaluated for a variety of cloud conditions. Descriptions of the radar hardware, signal processing, and calibration provide an overview of the radar's capabilities. An important component of the signal processing is the application of two cloud-mask schemes to the data to provide objective estimates of cloud boundaries and to detect significant returns that would otherwise be discarded if a simple threshold method for delectability was applied to the return power. Realistic profiles of atmospheric pressure, temperature, and water vapor are used in a radiative transfer model to address clear-sky attenuation. A physically relevant study of beam extinction and backscattering by clouds is attempted by modeling cloud drop size distributions with a gamma distribution over a range of number concentrations, particle mean diameters, and distribution shape factors; cloud liquid water contents and mean drop size diameters reported in the literature are analyzed in this context. Results of observations of a number of cloud structures, including marine strato- cumulus, cirrus, and stratus and cirrus associated with a midlatitude cyclone are described.

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