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Peter T. May, A. R. Jameson, Thomas D. Keenan, and Paul E. Johnston

Abstract

This paper describes the results of an experiment that combines the data from a 5-cm-wavelength polarimetric radar and multiple-frequency wind profilers to examine the polarimetric signatures associated with the microphysical structure of several relatively shallow thunderstorms and also to examine quantitative rainfall measurements made with the polarimetric radar. These shallow storms produce considerable amounts of centimeter-sized hail. The presence and size of this hail are deduced from the wind profiler data. The melting hail particles produce a distinctive polarimetric signature with large values of differential reflectivity Z DR and suppressed values of the correlation coefficient between the signals at horizontal and vertical polarization. Comparisons between the mass-weighted mean drop diameter and differential reflectivity have been performed and show reasonable agreement with theoretical expectations, although the observed Z DR are somewhat smaller than expected. This may be associated with the theoretical assumption of the Pruppacher–Beard oblateness relationship even though there is evidence to suggest that real raindrops may be less oblate on average in convective rain. Quantitative polarimetric rainfall estimators have been compared with rainfall rates derived from the profiler drop size distribution retrievals and show reasonably good agreement when reflectivity values are matched.

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Guang Wen, Alain Protat, Peter T. May, William Moran, and Michael Dixon

Abstract

Two new algorithms for hydrometeor classification using polarimetric radar observations are developed based on prototypes derived by applying clustering techniques (Part I of this two-part paper). Each prototype is defined as a probability distribution of the polarimetric variables and ambient temperature corresponding to a hydrometeor type. The first algorithm is a maximum prototype likelihood classifier that uses all prototypes attributed to the different hydrometeor types in Part I. The hydrometeor type is assigned as the prototype with the highest likelihood when comparing the polarimetric variables and temperature with each prototype. The second algorithm is a Bayesian classifier that uses the probability density functions (PDFs) as derived from the prototype set associated with the identical hydrometeor type. The posteriori probability in the Bayesian method is calculated from a combination of the PDFs and the prior probability, the maximum of which corresponds to the most likely hydrometeor type. The respective merits of the two techniques are discussed. The two classifiers are applied to CP-2 S-band radar observations of two hailstorms that occurred between 16 and 20 November 2008, including the so-called Gap storm, which produced a devastating microburst and large hail at the ground. Results from the classifiers are compared with those derived using the well-established National Center for Atmospheric Research fuzzy logic classifier. In general, good agreement is found, yielding overall confidence in the robustness of the new classifiers. However, large differences are found for the melting ice and ice crystal categories, which will need to be studied further.

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Vickal V. Kumar, Christian Jakob, Alain Protat, Christopher R. Williams, and Peter T. May

Abstract

Cumulus parameterizations in weather and climate models frequently apply mass-flux schemes in their description of tropical convection. Mass flux constitutes the product of the fractional area covered by convection in a model grid box and the vertical velocity in cumulus clouds. However, vertical velocities are difficult to observe on GCM scales, making the evaluation of mass-flux schemes difficult. Here, the authors combine high-temporal-resolution observations of in-cloud vertical velocities derived from a pair of wind profilers over two wet seasons at Darwin with physical properties of precipitating clouds [cloud-top heights (CTH), convective–stratiform classification] derived from the Darwin C-band polarimetric radar to provide estimates of cumulus mass flux and its constituents. The length of this dataset allows for investigations of the contributions from different cumulus cloud types—namely, congestus, deep, and overshooting convection—to the overall mass flux and of the influence of large-scale conditions on mass flux. The authors found that mass flux was dominated by updrafts and, in particular, the updraft area fraction, with updraft vertical velocity playing a secondary role. The updraft vertical velocities peaked above 10 km where both the updraft area fractions and air densities were small, resulting in a marginal effect on mass-flux values. Downdraft area fractions are much smaller and velocities are much weaker than those in updrafts. The area fraction responded strongly to changes in midlevel large-scale vertical motion and convective inhibition (CIN). In contrast, changes in the lower-tropospheric relative humidity and convective available potential energy (CAPE) strongly modulate in-cloud vertical velocities but have moderate impacts on area fractions. Although average mass flux is found to increase with increasing CTH, it is the environmental conditions that seem to dictate the magnitude of mass flux produced by convection through a combination of effects on area fraction and velocity.

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Christopher Lucas, Andrew D. MacKinnon, Robert A. Vincent, and Peter T. May

Abstract

The retrieval of raindrop size distributions (DSDs) in precipitation using boundary layer wind profiler operating at VHF is described. To make the retrievals, a Fourier transform–based deconvolution technique, optimized to run with little human input, is used. The sensitivities of the technique and its overall accuracy are investigated using simulated spectra. The retrievals have an error that depends on the drop diameter, with relative errors varying between ∼10% and 35%. An overall average negative bias of about ∼20% is also found. The magnitude and direction of this bias depend on the spectral width of the input spectrum.

The radar and methodology are applied to a case study of a convective cell. Retrievals are made with ∼300 m resolution between 800 and 4600 m. The temporal resolution is 2 min. Comparisons with a rain gauge show that both the magnitude and timing of the precipitation are well captured by the radar. The relationship between the observed rain rate and exponential fits applied to the DSDs agrees very well with previously published studies. A careful analysis of the characteristics of the DSDs within the descending rainshafts provides direct observations of drop size sorting within the precipitation and the formation of hybrid DSDs formed by the overlapping of consecutive rainshafts.

This study highlights the potential of the boundary layer profiler in precipitation studies. Some drawbacks exist, such as the wide beam of the radar, which increases the spectral width of the radar and limits its use in windy conditions. However, when observations are available, they appear to be of high quality and fill a gap in observations unavailable to more conventional wind profilers. In the future, it is hoped that refinements in the technique will allow the temporal resolution of the radar to be increased and the quality of the retrievals to be improved.

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Vickal V. Kumar, Alain Protat, Peter T. May, Christian Jakob, Guillaume Penide, Sushil Kumar, and Laura Davies

Abstract

Two seasons of Darwin, Australia, C-band polarimetric (CPOL) research radar, radiosoundings, and lightning data are examined to study the relative influence of the large-scale atmospheric regimes and the underlying surface types on tropical convective cloud properties and their diurnal evolution. The authors find that in the “deep westerly” regime, which corresponds to the monsoon period, the convective cloud occurrence rate is highest, consistent with its highest relative humidity. However, these convective clouds have relatively low cloud-top heights, smaller-than-average cell volumes, and are electrically least active. In this regime, the cloud cell volume does not vary significantly across different underlying surfaces and afternoon convective activity is suppressed. Thus, the picture emerging is that the convective cloud activity in the deep westerly regime is primarily regulated by the large-scale conditions. The remaining regimes (“easterly,” “shallow westerly,” and “moist easterly”) also demonstrate strong dependence on the large-scale forcing and a secondary dependence on the underlying surface type. The easterly regime has a small convective cloud occurrence rate and low cloud heights but higher lightning counts per convective cloud. The other two regimes have moderate convective cloud occurrence rates and larger cloud sizes. The easterly, shallow westerly, and moist easterly regimes exhibit a strong, clearly defined semidiurnal convective cloud occurrence pattern, with peaks in the early morning and afternoon periods. The cell onset times in these three regimes depend on the combination of local time and the underlying surface.

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Justin R. Peter, Michael J. Manton, Rodney J. Potts, Peter T. May, Scott M. Collis, and Louise Wilson

Abstract

The aim of this study is to examine the statistics of convective storms and their concomitant changes with thermodynamic variability. The thermodynamic variability is analyzed by performing a cluster analysis on variables derived from radiosonde releases at Brisbane Airport in Australia. Three objectively defined regimes are found: a dry, stable regime with mainly westerly surface winds, a moist northerly regime, and a moist trade wind regime. S-band radar data are analyzed and storms are identified using objective tracking software [Thunderstorm Identification, Tracking, Analysis, and Nowcasting (TITAN)]. Storm statistics are then investigated, stratified by the regime subperiods. Convective storms are found to form and maintain along elevated topography. Probability distributions of convective storm size and rain rate are found to follow lognormal distributions with differing mean and variance among the regimes. There was some evidence of trimodal storm-top heights, located at the trade inversion (1.5–2 km), freezing level (3.6–4 km), and near 6 km, but it was dependent on the presence of the trade inversion. On average, storm volume and height are smallest in the trade regime and rain rate is largest in the westerly regime. However, westerly regime storms occur less frequently and have shorter lifetimes, which were attributed to the enhanced stability and decreased humidity profiles. Furthermore, time series of diurnal rain rate exhibited early morning and midafternoon maxima for the northerly and trade regimes but were absent for the westerly regime. The observations indicate that westerly regime storms are primarily driven by large-scale forcing, whereas northerly and trade wind regime storms are more responsive to surface characteristics.

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Simon Caine, Todd P. Lane, Peter T. May, Christian Jakob, Steven T. Siems, Michael J. Manton, and James Pinto

Abstract

This study presents a method for comparing convection-permitting model simulations to radar observations using an innovative object-based approach. The method uses the automated cell-tracking algorithm, Thunderstorm Identification Tracking Analysis and Nowcasting (TITAN), to identify individual convective cells and determine their properties. Cell properties are identified in the same way for model and radar data, facilitating comparison of their statistical distributions. The method is applied to simulations of tropical convection during the Tropical Warm Pool-International Cloud Experiment (TWP-ICE) using the Weather Research and Forecasting Model, and compared to data from a ground-based radar. Simulations with different microphysics and model resolution are also conducted. Among other things, the comparisons between the model and the radar elucidate model errors in the depth and size of convective cells. On average, simulated convective cells reached higher altitudes than the observations. Also, when using a low reflectivity (25 dBZ) threshold to define convective cells, the model underestimates the size of the largest cells in the observed population. Some of these differences are alleviated with a change of microphysics scheme and higher model resolution, demonstrating the utility of this method for assessing model changes.

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G. Vaughan, C. Schiller, A. R. MacKenzie, K. Bower, T. Peter, H. Schlager, N. R. P. Harris, and P. T. May

During November and December 2005, two consortia of mainly European groups conducted an aircraft campaign in Darwin, Australia, to measure the composition of the tropical upper-troposphere and tropopause regions, between 12 and 20 km, in order to investigate the transport and transformation in deep convection of water vapor, aerosols, and trace chemicals. The campaign used two high-altitude aircraft—the Russian M55 Geophysica and the Australian Grob 520 Egrett, which can reach 20 and 15 km, respectively—complemented by upward-pointing lidar measurements from the DLR Falcon and low-level aerosol and chemical measurements from the U.K. Dornier-228. The meteorology during the campaign was characterized mainly by premonsoon conditions—isolated afternoon thunderstorms with more organized convective systems in the evening and overnight. At the beginning of November pronounced pollution resulting from widespread biomass burning was measured by the Dornier, giving way gradually to cleaner conditions by December, thus affording the opportunity to study the influence of aerosols on convection. The Egrett was used mainly to sample in and around the outflow from isolated thunderstorms, with a couple of survey missions near the end. The Geophysica–Falcon pair spent about 40% of their flight hours on survey legs, prioritizing remote sensing of water vapor, cirrus, and trace gases, and the remainder on close encounters with storm systems, prioritizing in situ measurements. Two joint missions with all four aircraft were conducted: on 16 November, during the polluted period, sampling a detached anvil from a single-cell storm, and on 30 November, around a much larger multicellular storm.

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Robert Schafer, Peter T. May, Thomas D. Keenan, Kendal McGuffie, Warner L. Ecklund, Paul E. Johnston, and Kenneth S. Gage

Abstract

Data collected during the Maritime Continent Thunderstorm Experiment (MCTEX) (10 November–10 December 1995) have been used to analyze boundary layer development and circulations over two almost flat, tropical islands. The two adjacent islands have a combined length of about 170 km from east to west and 70 km from north to south. Intense thunderstorms formed over these islands every day of the field campaign. The boundary layer depth, temperature, and circulation over the island have been measured over the full diurnal cycle using a multiple radar analysis combined with surface and radiosonde measurements. On average, the island boundary layer depth reaches 1.5 km by early to midafternoon coinciding with the development of the deep convection. Thus, the island boundary layer is significantly deeper than the typical tropical oceanic boundary layer. In the midafternoon, thunderstorm outflows and their associated cold pool stabilize the lower boundary layer, suppressing late convection. This is followed by a period of partial boundary layer recovery for 1–2 h. After sunset, cooling leads to a deepening ground-based inversion below a residual mixed layer. Near the island center, the residual mixed layer of island-modified air is replaced by air of oceanic origin by about 2300 LST (local standard time) that then persists until sunrise the next day. The advection of boundary layer air of oceanic origin over the islands every evening resets the boundary layer development cycle. It is shown that much of the variation in the diurnal temperature profile is a result of thunderstorm activity, radiative processes, and the advection of island and oceanic boundary layer air.

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Peter T. May, James H. Mather, Geraint Vaughan, Christian Jakob, Greg M. McFarquhar, Keith N. Bower, and Gerald G. Mace

A comprehensive dataset describing tropical cloud systems and their environmental setting and impacts has been collected during the Tropical Warm Pool International Cloud Experiment (TWPICE) and Aerosol and Chemical Transport in Tropical Convection (ACTIVE) campaign in the area around Darwin, Northern Australia, in January and February 2006. The aim of the experiment was to observe the evolution of tropical cloud systems and their interaction with the environment within an observational framework optimized for a range of modeling activities with the goal of improving the representation of cloud and aerosol process in a range of models. The experiment design utilized permanent observational facilities in Darwin, including a polarimetric weather radar and a suite of cloud remote-sensing instruments. This was augmented by a dense network of soundings, together with radiation, flux, lightning, and remote-sensing measurements, as well as oceanographic observations. A fleet of five research aircraft, including two high-altitude aircraft, were taking measurements of fluxes, cloud microphysics, and chemistry; cloud radar and lidar were carried on a third aircraft. Highlights of the experiment include an intense mesoscale convective system (MCS) developed within the network, observations used to analyze the impacts of aerosol on convective systems, and observations used to relate cirrus properties to the parent storm properties.

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