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Gary A. Wick, Terrence F. Hock, Paul J. Neiman, Holger Vömel, Michael L. Black, and J. Ryan Spackman

Abstract

A new remotely controlled Airborne Vertical Atmospheric Profiling System (AVAPS) dropsonde system has been developed for and deployed on the NASA Global Hawk (GH) unmanned aircraft. Design, fabrication, and operation of the system was led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) with support from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Program. The system has employed the NCAR Research Dropsonde 94 (NRD94) dropsonde, a smaller and lighter version of the standard RD94 dropsonde deployed from manned aircraft but with virtually identical sensors. The dropsondes provide in situ atmospheric profiles of temperature, pressure, and humidity at a 2-Hz data rate, and wind speed and direction at 4 Hz. The system is capable of carrying up to 90 dropsondes and can support eight simultaneous soundings. Operation from the GH means that the dropsondes can be deployed from altitudes up to 19.8 km during flights in excess of 24-h duration. The dropsonde launch is commanded directly by an operator on the ground in coordination with the aircraft commander. Over 2700 total dropsondes have been deployed from the GH during four major campaigns since 2011. Data are processed in near–real time and have been employed by forecasters, for assimilation in numerical weather prediction models, and in diverse research studies. Intercomparison studies suggest the performance of the GH NRD94 dropsondes is similar to those deployed from manned aircraft. This paper describes the components and operation of the system and illustrates its unique capabilities through highlights of data application to research on the Arctic atmosphere, atmospheric rivers, and tropical cyclones.

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Eric Rogers, Thomas L. Black, Dennis G. Deaven, Geoffrey J. DiMego, Qingyun Zhao, Michael Baldwin, Norman W. Junker, and Ying Lin

Abstract

This note describes changes that have been made to the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) operational “early” eta model. The changes are 1) an decrease in horizontal grid spacing from 80 to 48 km, 2) incorporation of a cloud prediction scheme, 3) replacement of the original static analysis system with a 12-h intermittent data assimilation system using the eta model, and 4) the use of satellite-sensed total column water data in the eta optimum interpolation analysis. When tested separately, each of the four changes improved model performance. A quantitative and subjective evaluation of the full upgrade package during March and April 1995 indicated that the 48-km eta model was more skillful than the operational 80-km model in predicting the intensity and movement of large-scale weather systems. In addition, the 48-km eta model was more skillful in predicting severe mesoscale precipitation events than either the 80-km eta model, the nested grid model, or the NCEP global spectral model during the March-April 1995 period. The implementation of this new version of the operational early eta system was performed in October 1995.

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Junhong (June) Wang, Kate Young, Terry Hock, Dean Lauritsen, Dalton Behringer, Michael Black, Peter G. Black, James Franklin, Jeff Halverson, John Molinari, Leon Nguyen, Tony Reale, Jeff Smith, Bomin Sun, Qing Wang, and Jun A. Zhang

Abstract

A GPS dropsonde is a scientific instrument deployed from research and operational aircraft that descends through the atmosphere by a parachute. The dropsonde provides high-quality, high-vertical-resolution profiles of atmospheric pressure, temperature, relative humidity, wind speed, and direction from the aircraft flight level to the surface over oceans and remote areas. Since 1996, GPS dropsondes have been routinely dropped during hurricane reconnaissance and surveillance flights to help predict hurricane track and intensity. From 1996 to 2012, NOAA has dropped 13,681 dropsondes inside hurricane eye walls or in the surrounding environment for 120 tropical cyclones (TCs). All NOAA dropsonde data have been collected, reformatted to one format, and consistently and carefully quality controlled using state-of-the-art quality-control (QC) tools. Three value-added products, the vertical air velocity and the radius and azimuth angle of each dropsonde location, are generated and added to the dataset. As a result, a long-term (1996–2012), high-quality, high-vertical-resolution (∼5–15 m) GPS dropsonde dataset is created and made readily available for public access. The dropsonde data collected during hurricane reconnaissance and surveillance flights have improved TC-track and TC-intensity forecasts significantly. The impact of dropsonde data on hurricane studies is summarized. The scientific applications of this long-term dropsonde dataset are highlighted, including characterizing TC structures, studying TC environmental interactions, identifying surface-based ducts in the hurricane environment that affect electromagnetic wave propagation, and validating satellite temperature and humidity profiling products.

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Keith D. Sherburn, Matthew D. Parker, Casey E. Davenport, Richard A. Sirico, Jonathan L. Blaes, Brandon Black, Shaelyn E. McLamb, Michael C. Mugrage, and Ryan M. Rackliffe

Abstract

Recent research has improved our knowledge and forecasting of high-shear, low-CAPE (HSLC) severe convection, which produces a large fraction of overnight and cool season tornadoes. However, limited near-storm observations have hindered progress in our understanding of HSLC environments and detection of severe potential within them. This article provides an overview of a research project in central North Carolina aimed toward increasing the number of observations in the vicinity of severe and nonsevere HSLC convection. Particularly unique aspects of this project are a) leadership by student volunteers from a university sounding club and b) real-time communication of observations to local National Weather Service Forecast Offices. In addition to an overview of sounding operations and goals, two case examples are provided that support the potential utility of supplemental sounding observations for operational, educational, and research purposes.

Open access
Carly R. Tozer, James S. Risbey, Michael Grose, Didier P. Monselesan, Dougal T. Squire, Amanda S. Black, Doug Richardson, Sarah N. Sparrow, Sihan Li, and David Wallom
Free access
Dean Roemmich, Jeffrey T. Sherman, Russ E. Davis, Kyle Grindley, Michael McClune, Charles J. Parker, David N. Black, Nathalie Zilberman, Sarah G. Purkey, Philip J. H. Sutton, and John Gilson

Abstract

Deployment of Deep Argo regional pilot arrays is underway as a step toward a global array of 1250 surface-to-bottom profiling floats embedded in the upper-ocean (2000 m) Argo Program. Of the 80 active Deep Argo floats as of July 2019, 55 are Deep Sounding Oceanographic Lagrangian Observer (SOLO) 6000-m instruments, and the rest are composed of three additional models profiling to either 4000 or 6000 m. Early success of the Deep SOLO is owed partly to its evolution from the Core Argo SOLO-II. Here, Deep SOLO design choices are described, including the spherical glass pressure housing, the hydraulics system, and the passive bottom detection system. Operation of Deep SOLO is flexible, with the mission parameters being adjustable from shore via Iridium communications. Long lifetime is a key element in sustaining a global array, and Deep SOLO combines a long battery life of over 200 cycles to 6000 m with robust operation and a low failure rate. The scientific value of Deep SOLO is illustrated, including examples of its ability (i) to observe large-scale spatial and temporal variability in deep ocean temperature and salinity, (ii) to sample newly formed water masses year-round and within a few meters of the sea floor, and (iii) to explore the poorly known abyssal velocity field and deep circulation of the World Ocean. Deep SOLO’s full-depth range and its potential for global coverage are critical attributes for complementing the Core Argo Program and achieving these objectives.

Open access
Evan A. Kalina, Sergey Y. Matrosov, Joseph J. Cione, Frank D. Marks, Jothiram Vivekanandan, Robert A. Black, John C. Hubbert, Michael M. Bell, David E. Kingsmill, and Allen B. White

Abstract

Dual-polarization scanning radar measurements, air temperature soundings, and a polarimetric radar-based particle identification scheme are used to generate maps and probability density functions (PDFs) of the ice water path (IWP) in Hurricanes Arthur (2014) and Irene (2011) at landfall. The IWP is separated into the contribution from small ice (i.e., ice crystals), termed small-particle IWP, and large ice (i.e., graupel and snow), termed large-particle IWP. Vertically profiling radar data from Hurricane Arthur suggest that the small ice particles detected by the scanning radar have fall velocities mostly greater than 0.25 m s−1 and that the particle identification scheme is capable of distinguishing between small and large ice particles in a mean sense. The IWP maps and PDFs reveal that the total and large-particle IWPs range up to 10 kg m−2, with the largest values confined to intense convective precipitation within the rainbands and eyewall. Small-particle IWP remains mostly <4 kg m−2, with the largest small-particle IWP values collocated with maxima in the total IWP. PDFs of the small-to-total IWP ratio have shapes that depend on the precipitation type (i.e., intense convective, stratiform, or weak-echo precipitation). The IWP ratio distribution is narrowest (broadest) in intense convective (weak echo) precipitation and peaks at a ratio of about 0.1 (0.3).

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Amanda S. Black, James S. Risbey, Christopher C. Chapman, Didier P. Monselesan, Thomas S. Moore II, Michael J. Pook, Doug Richardson, Bernadette M. Sloyan, Dougal T. Squire, and Carly R. Tozer

Abstract

Large-scale cloud features referred to as cloudbands are known to be related to widespread and heavy rain via the transport of tropical heat and moisture to higher latitudes. The Australian northwest cloudband is such a feature that has been identified in simple searches of satellite imagery but with limited investigation of its atmospheric dynamical support. An accurate, long-term climatology of northwest cloudbands is key to robustly assessing these events. A dynamically based search algorithm has been developed that is guided by the presence and orientation of the subtropical jet stream. This jet stream is the large-scale atmospheric feature that determines the development and alignment of a cloudband. Using a new 40-yr dataset of cloudband events compiled by this search algorithm, composite atmospheric and ocean surface conditions over the period 1979–2018 have been assessed. Composite cloudband upper-level flow revealed a tilted low pressure trough embedded in a Rossby wave train. Composites of vertically integrated water vapor transport centered around the jet maximum during northwest cloudband events reveal a distinct atmospheric river supplying tropical moisture for cloudband rainfall. Parcel backtracking indicated multiple regions of moisture support for cloudbands. A thermal wind anomaly orientated with respect to an enhanced sea surface temperature gradient over the Indian Ocean was also a key composite cloudband feature. A total of 300 years of a freely coupled control simulation of the ACCESS-D system was assessed for its ability to simulate northwest cloudbands. Composite analysis of model cloudbands compared reasonably well to reanalysis despite some differences in seasonality and frequency of occurrence.

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John A. Knox, Jared A. Rackley, Alan W. Black, Vittorio A. Gensini, Michael Butler, Corey Dunn, Taylor Gallo, Melyssa R. Hunter, Lauren Lindsey, Minh Phan, Robert Scroggs, and Synne Brustad

Using publicly available information gleaned from over 1700 found-and-returned objects on the “Pictures and Documents found after the 27 April 2011 Tornadoes” Facebook page, the authors have created a database of 934 objects lofted by at least 15 different tornadoes during the 27 April 2011 Super Outbreak in the southeast United States. Analysis of the takeoff and landing points of these objects using GIS and high-resolution numerical trajectory modeling techniques extends previous work on this subject that used less specific information for much smaller sets of tracked tornado debris. It was found that objects traveled as far as 353 km, exceeding the previous record for the longest documented tornado debris trajectory. While the majority of debris trajectories were 10° to the left of the average tornado track vector, the longest trajectories exhibited a previously undocumented tendency toward the right of the average tornado track vector. Based on results from a high-resolution trajectory model, a relationship between this tendency and the altitude of lofting of debris is hypothesized, with the debris reaching the highest altitudes taking the rightmost trajectories. The paper concludes with a discussion of the pros and cons of using social media information for meteorological research.

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Robert Rogers, Sim Aberson, Altug Aksoy, Bachir Annane, Michael Black, Joseph Cione, Neal Dorst, Jason Dunion, John Gamache, Stan Goldenberg, Sundararaman Gopalakrishnan, John Kaplan, Bradley Klotz, Sylvie Lorsolo, Frank Marks, Shirley Murillo, Mark Powell, Paul Reasor, Kathryn Sellwood, Eric Uhlhorn, Tomislava Vukicevic, Jun Zhang, and Xuejin Zhang

An update of the progress achieved as part of the NOAA Intensity Forecasting Experiment (IFEX) is provided. Included is a brief summary of the noteworthy aircraft missions flown in the years since 2005, the first year IFEX flights occurred, as well as a description of the research and development activities that directly address the three primary IFEX goals: 1) collect observations that span the tropical cyclone (TC) life cycle in a variety of environments for model initialization and evaluation; 2) develop and refine measurement strategies and technologies that provide improved real-time monitoring of TC intensity, structure, and environment; and 3) improve the understanding of physical processes important in intensity change for a TC at all stages of its life cycle. Such activities include the real-time analysis and transmission of Doppler radar measurements; numerical model and data assimilation advancements; characterization of tropical cyclone composite structure across multiple scales, from vortex scale to turbulence scale; improvements in statistical prediction of rapid intensification; and studies specifically targeting tropical cyclogenesis, extratropical transition, and the impact of environmental humidity on TC structure and evolution. While progress in TC intensity forecasting remains challenging, the activities described here provide some hope for improvement.

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