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Paul Schroeder, W. Alan Brewer, Aditya Choukulkar, Ann Weickmann, Michael Zucker, Maxwell W. Holloway, and Scott Sandberg

Abstract

This work details a master oscillator power amplifier (MOPA) microjoule-class pulsed coherent Doppler lidar system configuration designed to measure line-of-sight wind velocities and backscatter intensity of atmospheric aerosols. The instrument is unique in its form factor. It consists of two physically separated modules connected by a 10 m umbilical cable. One module hosts the transceiver, which is composed of the telescope, transmit/receive (T/R) switch, and high-gain optical amplifier, and is housed in a small box (34.3 cm × 34.3 cm × 17.8 cm). The second module contains the data acquisition system and several electro-optical components. This form factor enables deployments on platforms that are otherwise inaccessible by commercial and research instruments of similar design. In this work, optical, electrical, and data acquisition components and configurations of the lidar are detailed and two example deployments are presented. The first deployment describes measurements of a controlled wildfire burn from a small aircraft to measure vertical plume dynamics and fire inflow conditions during summer in Florida. The second presents measurements of the marine boundary layer height and vertical velocity and variance profiles from the Research Vessel (R/V) Thomas Thompson. The new instrument has enabled greater flexibility in field campaigns where previous instruments would have been too costly or space prohibitive to deploy.

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Christopher C. Weiss, David C. Dowell, John L. Schroeder, Patrick S. Skinner, Anthony E. Reinhart, Paul M. Markowski, and Yvette P. Richardson

Abstract

Observations obtained during the second Verification of the Origin of Rotation in Tornadoes Experiment (VORTEX2) are analyzed for three supercell intercepts. These intercepts used a fleet of deployable “StickNet” probes, complemented by mobile radars and a mobile mesonet, to map state quantities over the expanse of target storms.

Two of the deployments occurred for different stages of a supercell storm near and east of Dumas, Texas, on 18 May 2010. A comparison of the thermodynamic and kinematic characteristics of the storm provides a possible explanation for why one phase was weakly tornadic and the other nontornadic. The weakly tornadic phase features a stronger horizontal virtual temperature gradient antiparallel to the forward-flank reflectivity gradient and perpendicular to the near-surface flow direction, suggesting that air parcels could acquire more significant baroclinic vorticity as they approach the low-level mesocyclone.

The strongly tornadic 10 May 2010 case near Seminole, Oklahoma, features comparatively small virtual and equivalent potential temperature deficits, suggesting the strength of baroclinic zones may be less useful than the buoyancy near the mesocyclone for assessing tornado potential. The distribution of positive pressure perturbations and backed ground-relative winds within the forward flank are consistent with the notion of a “starburst” pattern of diverging winds associated with the forward-flank downdraft.

Narrow (~1 km wide) zones of intense baroclinic vorticity generation of O(~10−4) s−2 are shown to exist within precipitation on the forward and left sides of the mesocyclone in the Dumas intercepts, not dissimilar from such zones identified in recent high-resolution numerical studies.

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Julie K. Lundquist, James M. Wilczak, Ryan Ashton, Laura Bianco, W. Alan Brewer, Aditya Choukulkar, Andrew Clifton, Mithu Debnath, Ruben Delgado, Katja Friedrich, Scott Gunter, Armita Hamidi, Giacomo Valerio Iungo, Aleya Kaushik, Branko Kosović, Patrick Langan, Adam Lass, Evan Lavin, Joseph C.-Y. Lee, Katherine L. McCaffrey, Rob K. Newsom, David C. Noone, Steven P. Oncley, Paul T. Quelet, Scott P. Sandberg, John L. Schroeder, William J. Shaw, Lynn Sparling, Clara St. Martin, Alexandra St. Pe, Edward Strobach, Ken Tay, Brian J. Vanderwende, Ann Weickmann, Daniel Wolfe, and Rochelle Worsnop

Abstract

To assess current capabilities for measuring flow within the atmospheric boundary layer, including within wind farms, the U.S. Department of Energy sponsored the eXperimental Planetary boundary layer Instrumentation Assessment (XPIA) campaign at the Boulder Atmospheric Observatory (BAO) in spring 2015. Herein, we summarize the XPIA field experiment, highlight novel measurement approaches, and quantify uncertainties associated with these measurement methods. Line-of-sight velocities measured by scanning lidars and radars exhibit close agreement with tower measurements, despite differences in measurement volumes. Virtual towers of wind measurements, from multiple lidars or radars, also agree well with tower and profiling lidar measurements. Estimates of winds over volumes from scanning lidars and radars are in close agreement, enabling the assessment of spatial variability. Strengths of the radar systems used here include high scan rates, large domain coverage, and availability during most precipitation events, but they struggle at times to provide data during periods with limited atmospheric scatterers. In contrast, for the deployment geometry tested here, the lidars have slower scan rates and less range but provide more data during nonprecipitating atmospheric conditions. Microwave radiometers provide temperature profiles with approximately the same uncertainty as radio acoustic sounding systems (RASS). Using a motion platform, we assess motion-compensation algorithms for lidars to be mounted on offshore platforms. Finally, we highlight cases for validation of mesoscale or large-eddy simulations, providing information on accessing the archived dataset. We conclude that modern remote sensing systems provide a generational improvement in observational capabilities, enabling the resolution of finescale processes critical to understanding inhomogeneous boundary layer flows.

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