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Katrina S. Virts, John M. Wallace, Michael L. Hutchins, and Robert H. Holzworth

Abstract

Lightning over the Maritime Continent exhibits a pronounced diurnal cycle. Daytime and evening lightning occurs near coastlines and over mountain slopes, driven by sea and valley breezes. Nocturnal and morning thunderstorms are touched off where land breezes or mountain breezes converge or by gravity waves propagating away from regions of vigorous afternoon convection. In this study, the modulation of the diurnal cycle of lightning and precipitation by 850-hPa winds, cloudiness, and the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) is investigated using observations from the World Wide Lightning Location Network (WWLLN) and the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite. The 850-hPa wind speed and area-averaged cloudiness are shown to be negatively correlated with day-to-day lightning frequency over land, and thunderstorm occurrence is suppressed windward of, and enhanced leeward of, mountain ranges. Lightning and environmental conditions are similarly related in the MJO. During break periods, the regular diurnal cycle of lightning is enhanced where ambient low-level winds are easterly but abnormally weak—in the Strait of Malacca, over western and southern Borneo and the adjacent seas, and in the region of nocturnal thunderstorms to the west of Sumatra and Java. When the active, cloudy phase of the MJO, accompanied by low-level westerly winds, passes over the Maritime Continent, the regular diurnal cycle of lightning is enhanced leeward (to the east) of the mountains of Java, Borneo, and the Malay Peninsula. The spatial patterns of lightning and rainfall anomalies are broadly similar, but lightning anomalies tend to be more concentrated near coastlines.

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David R. Smith, Ira W. Geer, Robert S. Weinbeck, John T. Snow, and William H. Beasley

During the summer of 1993, Project ATMOSPHERE, in cooperation with the University of Oklahoma School of Meteorology, conducted a workshop to enhance both the meteorological background and leadership skills of AMS Atmospheric Education Resource Agents (AERAs). Fifty-eight teachers representing 39 states and the District of Columbia attended this workshop, which focused on atmospheric water processes and severe local storms. In addition to lectures and laboratory activities, AERAs also visited a variety of research and operational support facilities in the Norman area. This workshop was the third phase of training for AERAs, who represent the AMS in their local areas, providing instructional guidance for teachers and curricular input on the atmospheric sciences to their respective local and state educational agencies.

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Katrina S. Virts, John M. Wallace, Michael L. Hutchins, and Robert H. Holzworth

The seasonally and diurnally varying frequency of lightning flashes provides a measure of the frequency of occurrence of intense convection and, as such, is useful in describing the Earth's climate. Here we present a few highlights of a global lightning climatology based on data from the ground-based World Wide Lightning Location Network (WWLLN), for which global observations began in 2004. Because WWLLN monitors global lightning continuously, it samples ~100 times as many lightning strokes/flashes per year as the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission's (TRMM) Lightning Imaging Sensor (LIS). Using WWLLN data it is possible to generate a global lightning climatology that captures seasonal variations, including those associated with the midlatitude storm tracks, and resolves the diurnal cycle, thereby illuminating the interplay between sea breezes, mountain–valley wind systems, and remotely forced gravity waves in touching off thunderstorms in a wide variety of geographical settings. The text of the paper shows a few samples of regional, WWLLN-based seasonal (the midlatitude storm tracks and the Mediterranean) and diurnal (the Maritime Continent, the central Andes, and equatorial Africa) climatologies, and the online supplement presents animations of the global seasonal cycle and of the diurnal cycle for the latter regions.

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Thomas H. A. Frame, John Methven, Nigel M. Roberts, and Helen A. Titley

Abstract

The statistical properties and skill in predictions of objectively identified and tracked cyclonic features (frontal waves and cyclones) are examined in the 15-day version of the Met Office Global and Regional Ensemble Prediction System (MOGREPS-15). The number density of cyclonic features is found to decline with increasing lead time, with analysis fields containing weak features that are not sustained past the first day of the forecast. This loss of cyclonic features is associated with a decline in area-averaged enstrophy with increasing lead time. Both feature number density and area-averaged enstrophy saturate by around 7 days into the forecast. It is found that the feature number density and area-averaged enstrophy of forecasts produced using model versions that include stochastic energy backscatter saturate at higher values than forecasts produced without stochastic physics. The ability of MOGREPS-15 to predict the locations of cyclonic features of different strengths is evaluated at different spatial scales by examining the Brier skill (relative to the analysis climatology) of strike probability forecasts: the probability that a cyclonic feature center is located within a specified radius. The radius at which skill is maximized increases with lead time from 650 km at 12 h to 950 km at 7 days. The skill is greatest for the most intense features. Forecast skill remains above zero at these scales out to 14 days for the most intense cyclonic features, but only out to 8 days when all features are included irrespective of intensity.

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Katrina S. Virts, John M. Wallace, Michael L. Hutchins, and Robert H. Holzworth

Abstract

Recent observations from the World Wide Lightning Location Network (WWLLN) reveal a pronounced lightning maximum over the warm waters of the Gulf Stream that exhibits distinct diurnal and seasonal variability. Lightning is most frequent during summer (June–August). During afternoon and early evening, lightning is enhanced just onshore of the coast of the southeastern United States because of daytime heating of the land surface and the resulting sea-breeze circulations and convection. Near-surface wind observations from the Quick Scatterometer (QuikSCAT) satellite indicate divergence over the Gulf of Mexico and portions of the Gulf Stream at 1800 LT, at which time lightning activity is suppressed there. Lightning frequency exhibits a broad maximum over the Gulf Stream from evening through noon of the following day, and QuikSCAT wind observations at 0600 LT indicate low-level winds blowing away from the continent and converging over the Gulf Stream. Over the northern Gulf of Mexico, lightning is most frequent from around sunrise through late morning. During winter, lightning exhibits a weak diurnal cycle over the Gulf Stream, with most frequent lightning during the evening.

Precipitation rates from a 3-hourly gridded dataset that incorporates observations from Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM), as well as other satellites, exhibit a diurnal cycle over the Gulf Stream that lags the lightning diurnal cycle by several hours.

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Peter V. Hobbs, Thomas J. Matejka, Paul H. Herzegh, John D. Locatelli, and Robert A. Houze Jr.

Abstract

Detailed information is deduced on the mesoscale organization of precipitation, the structures of the clouds, the air flows associated with mesoscale rainbands, and the precipitation efficiencies and the mechanisms producing precipitation in the rainbands associated with a cold front. Measurements were obtained with quantitative reflectivity and Doppler radars, two instrumented aircraft, serial rawinsondes and a network of ground stations.

The regions of heaviest precipitation were organized into a complex mesoscale rainband in the warm-sector air ahead of the front, a narrow band of precipitation at the surface cold front, and four wide cold-frontal rainbands. The wide cold-frontal rainbands and the smaller mesoscale areas of precipitation within them moved with the velocities of the winds between ∼3—6 km. The narrow rainband, which was produced by strong convergence and convection in the boundary layer, moved with the speed of the cold front at the surface. A coupled updraft and downdraft was probably responsible for the heavy precipitation on the cold front being organized, on the small mesoscale, into ellipsoidal areas with similar orientations.

The precipitation efficiencies in the warm-sector and narrow cold-frontal rainbands were ∼40–50% and ∼30–50%, respectively. One of the wide cold-frontal rainbands, in which there was a steady production of ice panicles in the main updraft, had a precipitation efficiency of at least 80%, whereas another wide cold-frontal band, in which some precipitation evaporated before reaching the surface, had a precipitation efficiency of ∼20%.

Ice particles from shallow convective cells aloft played important roles in the production of precipitation in the wide cold-frontal rainbands and in some regions of the warm-sector rainband. These “seed” ice particles grew by aggregation and by the deposition of vapor as they fell through lower level “feeder” clouds. About 20% of the mass of the precipitation reaching the ground in the wide cold-frontal rainbands originated in the upper level “seeder” zones and ∼80% in the “feeder” zones.

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Miao-Ling Lu, Jian Wang, Richard C. Flagan, John H. Seinfeld, Andrew Freedman, Robert A. McClatchey, and Haflidi H. Jonsson

Abstract

Regions of enhanced humidity in the vicinity of cumulus clouds, so-called cloud halos, reflect features of cloud evolution, exert radiative effects, and may serve as a locus for new particle formation. Reported here are the results of an aircraft sampling campaign carried out near Oahu, Hawaii, from 31 July through 10 August 2001, aimed at characterizing the properties of trade wind cumulus cloud halos. An Aerodyne Research, Inc., fast spectroscopic water vapor sensor, flown for the first time in this campaign, allowed characterization of humidity properties at 10-m spatial resolution. Statistical properties of 60 traverses through cloud halos over the campaign were in general agreement with measurements reported by Perry and Hobbs. One particularly long-lived cloud is analyzed in detail, through both airborne measurement and numerical simulation, to track evolution of the cloud halos over the cloud's lifetime. Results of both observation and the simulation show that cloud halos tend to be broad at lower levels and narrow at upper levels, and broader on the downshear side than on the upshear side, broadening with time particularly in the downshear direction. The high correlation of clear-air turbulence distribution with the halo distribution temporally and spatially suggests that the halo forms, in part, due to turbulent mixing at the cloud boundary. Radiative calculations carried out on the simulated cloud and halo field indicate that the halo radiative effect is largest near cloud top during mature and dissipation stages. The halo-enhanced atmospheric shortwave absorption, averaged over this period, is about 1.3% of total solar absorption in the column.

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John M. Wilcox, Philip H. Scherrer, Leif Svalgaard, Walter Orr Roberts, Roger H. Olson, and Roy L. Jenne

Abstract

The solar magnetic sector structure has a sizable and reproducible influence on tropospheric and lower stratospheric vorticity. The average vorticity during winter in the Northern Hemisphere north of 2ON latitude reaches a minimum approximately one day after the passing of a sector boundary, and then increases during the following two or three days. The effect is found at all heights within the troposphere, but is not prominent in the stratosphere, except at the lower levels. No single longitudinal interval appears to dominate the effect.

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Beth J. Woodhams, Cathryn E. Birch, John H. Marsham, Caroline L. Bain, Nigel M. Roberts, and Douglas F. A. Boyd

ABSTRACT

Forecasting convective rainfall in the tropics is a major challenge for numerical weather prediction. The use of convection-permitting (CP) forecast models in the tropics has lagged behind the midlatitudes, despite the great potential of such models in this region. In the scientific literature, there is very little evaluation of CP models in the tropics, especially over an extended time period. This paper evaluates the prediction of convective storms for a period of 2 years in the Met Office operational CP model over East Africa and the global operational forecast model. A novel localized form of the fractions skill score is introduced, which shows variation in model skill across the spatial domain. Overall, the CP model and the global model both outperform a 24-h persistence forecast. The CP model shows greater skill than the global model, in particular on subdaily time scales and for storms over land. Forecasts over Lake Victoria are also improved in the CP model, with an increase in hit rate of up to 20%. Contrary to studies in the midlatitudes, the skill of both models shows a large dependence on the time of day and comparatively little dependence on the forecast lead time within a 48-h forecast. Although these results provide more motivation for forecasters to use the CP model to produce subdaily forecasts with increased detail, there is a clear need for more in situ observations for data assimilation into the models and for verification. A move toward ensemble forecasting could have further benefits.

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Alicia C. Wasula, Lance F. Bosart, Russell Schneider, Steven J. Weiss, Robert H. Johns, Geoffrey S. Manikin, and Patrick Welsh

Abstract

The 22–23 February 1998 central Florida tornado outbreak was one of the deadliest and costliest in Florida’s history; a number of long-track tornadoes moved across the Florida peninsula after 0000 UTC 23 February 1998. In the 12–24 h prior to 0000 UTC 23 February, a vigorous upper-level synoptic system was tracking across the southeast United States, and a north–south-oriented convective band located ahead of the cold front was moving eastward across the Gulf of Mexico. Strong vertical wind shear was present in the lowest 1 km, due to a ∼25 m s−1 low-level jet at 925 hPa and south-southeasterly surface flow over the Florida peninsula. Further, CAPE values across the central Florida peninsula exceeded 2500 J kg−1. Upon making landfall on the Florida peninsula, the convective band rapidly intensified and developed into a line of tornadic supercells. This paper examines the relationship between a diabatically induced front across the central Florida peninsula and the rapid development of tornadic supercells in the convective band after 0000 UTC 23 February. Results suggest that persistent strong frontogenesis helped to maintain the front and enhanced ascent in the warm, moist unstable air to the south of the east–west-oriented front on the Florida peninsula, thus allowing the updrafts to rapidly intensify as they made landfall. Further, surface observations from three key locations along the surface front suggest that a mesolow moved eastward along the front just prior to the time when supercells developed. It is hypothesized that the eastward-moving mesolow may have caused the winds in the warm air to the south of the surface front to back to southeasterly and create a favorable low-level wind profile in which supercells could rapidly develop.

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