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R. C. Srivastava and D. Atlas

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R. C. Srivastava and D. Atlas

Abstract

Analytical solutions for the growth and vertical and horizontal motion of a precipitation particle growing by coalescence with cloud drops are derived under simplified steady-state assumptions. An equation is also developed for the concentration density of a continuous distribution of growing particles.

Assuming that the cloud water content varies linearly with height, and that the fall speed of a drop is proportional to the square root of its diameter, it is shown that the combination of a linearly increasing updraft surmounted by a sharply decreasing one sets a sharp upper limit to the particle size, and sorts the particles horizontally. Particles which spend their entire life in regions of horizontal convergence associated with increasing updraft are packed into a narrower shaft than that in which they originated. Initially smaller particles are carried above into the region of horizontal divergence associated with decreasing updraft and are displaced far to the sides of the cloud core. It is found that when the updraft increases sharply there is a very small range of initial sizes which can grow to fall-out size. These facts are used to suggest that a steady “balance level” (equal reflectivity in rising and falling particles) may be maintained at a height near and below an updraft maximum. Particle size spectra computed from the concentration density equation are continuous and well-behaved for rising, floating and falling particles alike, without necessarily even maximizing for the floating size.

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David Atlas and Christopher R. Williams

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This study provides a very clear picture of the microphysics and flow field in a convective storm in the Rondonia region of Brazil through a synthesis of observations from two unique radars, measurements of the surface drop size distribution (DSD), and particle types and sizes from an aircraft penetration. The primary findings are 1) the growth of rain by the collision–coalescence–breakup (CCB) process to equilibrium drop size distributions entirely below the 0°C level; 2) the subsequent growth of larger ice particles (graupel and hail) at subfreezing temperatures; 3) the paucity of lightning activity during the former process, and the increased lightning frequency during the latter; 4) the occurrence of strong downdrafts and a downburst during the latter phase of the storm resulting from cooling by melting and evaporation; 5) the occurrence of turbulence along the main streamlines of the storm; and 6) the confirmation of the large drops reached during the CCB growth by polarimetric radar observations. These interpretations have been made possible by estimating the updraft magnitude using the “lower bound” of the Doppler spectrum at vertical incidence, and identifying the “balance level” at which particles are supported for growth. The combination of these methods shows where raindrops are supported for extended periods to allow their growth to equilibrium drop size distributions, while smaller drops ascend and large ones descend. A hypothesis worthy of pursuit is the control of the storm motion by the winds at the balance level, which is the effective precipitation generating level. Above the 0°C level the balance level separates the small ascending ice crystals from the large descending graupel and hail. Collisions between the two cause electrical charging, while gravity and the updrafts separate the charges to cause lightning. Below the 0°C level, large downward velocities (caused by the above-mentioned cooling) in excess of the terminal fall speeds of raindrops represent the downbursts, which are manifested in the surface winds.

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David Atlas, R. C. Srivastava, and W. S. Marker Jr.

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Specular reflection from a stratum of sharp, mean, vertical refractivity gradient frequently accompanies the scatter from the turbulent perturbations in refractivity which tend to be maximized close to the gradient. As a result, the signal intensity falls more rapidly, and the magnitude of the mean Doppler shift increases less rapidly with beam offset angle from the great circle than is the case for pure turbulent scatter. Also, in transmission via the great circle path, the Doppler spread, signal fading rate, and multi-path spread may be greatly reduced from that expected for turbulent scatter alone. Because transmission along the great circle may be greatly influenced by specular reflections, the strength of which is a function of the form and sharpness of the mean refractivity gradient, past experiments relating signal-wavelength dependence or signal-scatter angle dependence to the form of the turbulent refractivity spectrum are suspect.

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David Atlas, Carlton W. Ulbrich, and Christopher R. Williams

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A unique set of Doppler and polarimetric radar observations were made of a microburst-producing storm in Amazonia during the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) Large-Scale Biosphere–Atmosphere (LBA) field experiment. The key features are high reflectivity (50 dBZ) and modest size hail (up to 0.8 mm) in high liquid water concentrations (>4 g m−3) at the 5-km 0°C level, melting near the 3-km level as evidenced by the Doppler spectrum width on the profiler radar (PR), by differential polarization on the S-band dual-polarized radar (S-POL), and a sharp downward acceleration from 2.8 to 1.6 km to a peak downdraft of 11 m s−1, followed by a weak microburst of 15 m s−1 at the surface. The latter features closely match the initial conditions and results of the Srivastava numerical model of a microburst produced by melting hail. It is suggested that only modest size hail in large concentrations that melt aloft can produce wet microbursts. The narrower the distribution of hail particle sizes, the more confined will be the layer of melting and negative buoyancy, and the more intense the microburst. It is hypothesized that the timing of the conditions leading to the microburst is determined by the occurrence of an updraft of proper magnitude in the layer in which supercooled water accounts for the growth of hail or graupel.

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