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Xiaofeng Li
,
Weizhong Zheng
,
Xiaofeng Yang
,
Jun A. Zhang
,
William G. Pichel
, and
Ziwei Li

Abstract

Both atmospheric gravity waves (AGW) and marine atmospheric boundary layer (MABL) rolls are simultaneously observed on an Environmental Satellite (Envisat) advanced synthetic aperture radar (ASAR) image acquired along the China coast on 22 May 2005. The synthetic aperture radar (SAR) image covers about 400 km × 400 km of a coastal area of the Yellow Sea. The sea surface imprints of AGW show the patterns of both a transverse wave along the coastal plain and a diverging wave in the lee of Mount Laoshan (1133-m peak), which indicate that terrain forcing affects the formation of AGW. The AGW have a wavelength of 8–10 km and extend about 100 km offshore. Model simulation shows that these waves have an amplitude over 3 km. Finer-scale (~2 km) brushlike roughness features perpendicular to the coast are also observed, and they are interpreted as MABL rolls. The FFT analysis shows that the roll wavelengths vary spatially. The two-way interactive, triply nested grid (9–3–1 km) Weather Research and Forecasting Model (WRF) simulation reproduces AGW-generated wind perturbations that are in phase at all levels, reaching up to the 700-hPa level for the diverging AGW and the 900-hPa level for the transverse AGW. The WRF simulation also reveals that dynamic instability, rather than thermodynamic instability, is the cause for the MABL roll generation. Differences in atmospheric inflection-point level and instability at different locations are reasons why the roll wavelengths vary spatially.

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Frank M. Monaldo
,
Xiaofeng Li
,
William G. Pichel
, and
Christopher R. Jackson

Spaceborne synthetic aperture radar (SAR) imagery can make high-resolution (≤500 m) ocean wind speed measurements. The authors anticipate reprocessing the full decade and a half of Radarsat-1 SAR imagery and generating a SAR wind speed archive. These data will be of use for studies of coastal atmospheric phenomena and assessment of offshore wind power potential. To illustrate the potential of this latter application, they review the ability of SARs to measure wind speed, discuss an approach for using SARs to create wind speed climatologies useful for wind power resource assessments, and consider issues concerning the applicably of such data for these assessments.

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Todd D. Sikora
,
Karen S. Friedman
,
William G. Pichel
, and
Pablo Clemente-Colón

Abstract

Polar mesoscale cyclones are intense vortices that form in cold, marine air masses poleward of major jet streams and frontal zones. Synthetic aperture radar (SAR) should be considered as a potential tool for the study of polar mesoscale cyclones because of its ability to remotely sense, at least qualitatively, the high-resolution near-surface wind field independent of daylight and atmospheric conditions. Four case studies demonstrating this ability are presented. SAR imagery from the Canadian Space Agency’s RADARSAT are compared to corresponding infrared imagery, surface analyses, and upper-air analyses. In three of the four case studies, it is argued that the addition of SAR imagery to the process of generating a manual surface analysis would have led to a better product. Moreover, it is demonstrated that the SAR imagery reveals a host of marine-meteorological phenomena in the vicinity of the polar mesoscale cyclones including atmospheric gravity waves, roll vortices, and cellular convection. Because of the high-resolution attributes of SAR imagery, SAR shows promise to aid the forecaster and researcher in the study of marine-meteorological phenomena such as polar mesoscale cyclones.

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Karen S. Friedman
,
Todd D. Sikora
,
William G. Pichel
,
Pablo Clemente-Colón
, and
Gary Hufford

Abstract

The ever-changing weather and lack of in situ data in the Bering Sea warrants experimentation with new meteorological observing systems for this region. Spaceborne synthetic aperture radar (SAR) is well suited for observing the sea surface footprints of marine meteorological phenomena because its radiation is sensitive to centimeter-scale sea surface roughness, regardless of the time of day or cloud conditions. The near-surface wind field generates this sea surface roughness. Therefore, the sea surface footprints of meteorological phenomena are often revealed by SAR imagery when the main modulator of sea surface roughness is the wind. These attributes, in addition to the relatively high resolution of SAR products, make this instrument an excellent candidate for filling the meteorological observing needs over the Bering Sea.

This study demonstrates the potential usefulness of SAR for observing Bering Sea meteorology by focusing on its ability to image the sea surface footprints of polar mesoscale cyclones (PMCs). These storms can form unexpectedly and are threatening to maritime interests. In this demonstration, a veteran meteorologist at the Anchorage National Weather Service Forecast Office is asked to produce a surface reanalysis for three separate archived cases when SAR imaged a PMC but the original analysis, produced without the aid of SAR data, did not display it. The results show that in these three cases the inclusion of SAR data in the analysis procedure leads to large differences between the original surface analysis and the reanalysis. Of particular interest is that, in each case, the PMC is added into the reanalysis. It is argued that the reanalyses more accurately portray the near-surface meteorology for each case.

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Xiaofeng Li
,
Jun A. Zhang
,
Xiaofeng Yang
,
William G. Pichel
,
Mark DeMaria
,
David Long
, and
Ziwei Li

In 2008, the Canadian Space Agency sponsored the Radarsat Hurricane Applications Project (RHAP), for researching new developments in the application of Radarsat-1 synthetic aperture radar (SAR) data and innovative mapping approaches to better understand the dynamics of tropical cyclone genesis, morphology, and movement. Although tropical cyclones can be detected by many remote sensors, SAR can yield high-resolution (subkilometer) and low-level storm information that cannot be seen below the clouds by other sensors. In addition to the wind field and tropical cyclone eye information, structures associated with atmospheric processes can also be detected by SAR. We have acquired 161 Radarsat-1 SAR images through RHAP between 2001 and 2007. Among these, 73 images show clear tropical cyclone eye structure. In addition, we also acquired 10 images from the European Space Agency's Envisat SAR between 2004 and 2010. Both Atlantic hurricanes and Pacific typhoons are included.

In this study, we analyze these 83 (73 Radarsat-1 and 10 Envisat) images with tropical cyclone eye information along with ancillary tropical cyclone intensity information from the archive to generate tropical cyclone morphology statistics. Histograms of wave-number asymmetry and intensity are presented. The statistics show that when the storm has higher intensity, the tropical cyclone eye tends to become more symmetric, and the area of the tropical cyclone eye, defined by the minimum wind area, tends to be smaller. Examples of finescale structures within the tropical cyclone (i.e., eye/eyewall mesovortices, arc clouds, double eyewalls, and abnormally high wind or rain within eyes) are presented and discussed.

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