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  • Author or Editor: Paul M. Markowski x
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David M. Schultz
,
Yvette P. Richardson
,
Paul M. Markowski
, and
Charles A. Doswell III

After tornado outbreaks or individual violent tornadoes occur in the central United States, media stories often attribute the location, number, or intensity of tornadoes to the “clash of air masses” between warm tropical air and cold polar air. This article argues that such a characterization of tornadogenesis is oversimplified, outdated, and incorrect. Airmass boundaries and associated temperature gradients can be important in tornadogenesis, but not in the ways envisioned on the synoptic scale with the clash-of-air-masses conceptual model. In fact, excessively strong horizontal temperature gradients (either on the synoptic scale or associated with a storm's own cool outflow) may be detrimental to tornadogenesis. Where adjacent air masses are relevant is through their vertical distribution that produces the requisite instability for the convective storm, but that instability is not directly related to the formation of tornadoes. Therefore, this article recommends that a greater effort be made to communicate accurately to the public the current scientific understanding of the conditions under which tornadoes are formed.

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Paul M. Markowski
,
Yvette P. Richardson
,
Scott J. Richardson
, and
Anders Petersson

Abstract

The severe storms research community lacks reliable, aboveground, thermodynamic observations (e.g., temperature, humidity, and pressure) in convective storms. These missing observations are crucial to understanding the behavior of both supercell storms (e.g., the generation, reorientation, and amplification of vorticity necessary for tornado formation) and larger-scale (mesoscale) convective systems (e.g., storm maintenance and the generation of damaging straight-line winds). This paper describes a novel way to use balloonborne probes to obtain aboveground thermodynamic observations. Each probe is carried by a pair of balloons until one of the balloons is jettisoned; the remaining balloon and probe act as a pseudo-Lagrangian drifter that is drawn through the storm. Preliminary data are presented from a pair of deployments in supercell storms in Oklahoma and Kansas during May 2017. The versatility of the observing system extends beyond severe storms applications into any area of mesoscale meteorology in which a large array of aboveground, in situ thermodynamic observations are needed.

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Matthew R. Kumjian
,
Kevin A. Bowley
,
Paul M. Markowski
,
Kelly Lombardo
,
Zachary J. Lebo
, and
Pavlos Kollias
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Howard B. Bluestein
,
Robert M. Rauber
,
Donald W. Burgess
,
Bruce Albrecht
,
Scott M. Ellis
,
Yvette P. Richardson
,
David P. Jorgensen
,
Stephen J. Frasier
,
Phillip Chilson
,
Robert D. Palmer
,
Sandra E. Yuter
,
Wen-Chau Lee
,
David C. Dowell
,
Paul L. Smith
,
Paul M. Markowski
,
Katja Friedrich
, and
Tammy M. Weckwerth

To assist the National Science Foundation in meeting the needs of the community of scientists by providing them with the instrumentation and platforms necessary to conduct their research successfully, a meeting was held in late November 2012 with the purpose of defining the problems of the next generation that will require radar technologies and determining the suite of radars best suited to help solve these problems. This paper summarizes the outcome of the meeting: (i) Radars currently in use in the atmospheric sciences and in related research are reviewed. (ii) New and emerging radar technologies are described. (iii) Future needs and opportunities for radar support of high-priority research are discussed. The current radar technologies considered critical to answering the key and emerging scientific questions are examined. The emerging radar technologies that will be most helpful in answering the key scientific questions are identified. Finally, gaps in existing radar observing technologies are listed.

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