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R. Dixon, E. A. Spackman, I. Jones, and Anne Francis

Abstract

With the aid of orthogonal polynomials, generated by means of the Gram-Schmidt process, it is possible to fit polynomial functions of the form z=f (x, y) or z=f (x, y, p) to large bodies of data irregularly distributed in two or three dimensions. The results of some experiments with radiosonde pressure heights and wind data are shown. With adequate computing power the technique, which extends naturally to four dimensions, will afford an alternative to current, mainly grid point, techniques of analysis.

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Christopher A. Davis, Sarah C. Jones, and Michael Riemer

Abstract

Simulations of six Atlantic hurricanes are diagnosed to understand the behavior of realistic vortices in varying environments during the process of extratropical transition (ET). The simulations were performed in real time using the Advanced Research Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model (ARW), using a moving, storm-centered nest of either 4- or 1.33-km grid spacing. The six simulations, ranging from 45 to 96 h in length, provide realistic evolution of asymmetric precipitation structures, implying control by the synoptic scale, primarily through the vertical wind shear.

The authors find that, as expected, the magnitude of the vortex tilt increases with increasing shear, but it is not until the shear approaches 20 m s−1 that the total vortex circulation decreases. Furthermore, the total vertical mass flux is proportional to the shear for shears less than about 20–25 m s−1, and therefore maximizes, not in the tropical phase, but rather during ET. This has important implications for predicting hurricane-induced perturbations of the midlatitude jet and its consequences on downstream predictability.

Hurricane vortices in the sample resist shear by either adjusting their vertical structure through precession (Helene 2006), forming an entirely new center (Irene 2005), or rapidly developing into a baroclinic cyclone in the presence of a favorable upper-tropospheric disturbance (Maria 2005). Vortex resiliency is found to have a substantial diabatic contribution whereby vertical tilt is reduced through reduction of the primary vortex asymmetry induced by the shear. If the shear and tilt are so large that upshear subsidence overwhelms the symmetric vertical circulation of the hurricane, latent heating and precipitation will occur to the left of the tilt vector and slow precession. Such was apparent during Wilma (2005).

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Robert Davies-Jones, Vincent T. Wood, and Erik N. Rasmussen

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Formulas are obtained for observed circulation around and contraction rate of a Doppler radar grid cell within a surface of constant launch angle. The cell values near unresolved axisymmetric vortices vary greatly with beam-to-flow angle. To obtain reliable standard measures of vortex strength we bilinearly interpolate data to points on circles of specified radii concentric with circulation centers and compute the Doppler circulations around and the areal contraction rates of these circles from the field of mean Doppler velocities. These parameters are proposed for detection of strong tornadoes and mesocyclonic winds. The circulation and mean convergence around the Union City, Oklahoma, tornado of 24 May 1973 are computed. After doubling to compensate for the unobserved wind component, the circulation (1.1 × 105 m2 s−1) agrees with a previous photogrammetric measurement. The mature tornado was embedded in a region, 6 km in diameter, of nearly uniform strong convergence (~5.5 × 10−3 s−1) without a simultaneous mesocyclone. A model of a convergent vortex inputted to a Doppler radar emulator reproduces these results. Moving the model vortex shows that for a WSR-88D with superresolution, the circulation is relatively insensitive to range and azimuth. WSR-88D data of the 31 May 2013 El Reno storm are also analyzed. The tornado formed in a two-celled mesocyclone with strong inflow 5 km away. In the next 8 min the circulation near the axis doubled and the areal contraction rate at 5 km increased by 50%. This signified a large probability of strong tornadoes embedded in powerful storm-scale winds.

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Thomas A. Jones, Kevin M. McGrath, and John T. Snow

Abstract

Nearly 100 000 vortex detections produced by the Mesocyclone Detection Algorithm (MDA) are analyzed to gain insight into the effectiveness of the detection algorithm in identifying various types of tornado-producing events. Radar and algorithm limitations prevent raw vortex detections from being very useful without further discrimination. Filtering techniques are developed to remove spurious vortex detections and discriminate between vortices that are and are not related to mesocyclones.

To investigate whether various vortex detections (and their attributes) are associated with severe weather phenomena, they are compared with available tornado reports to determine if detections with certain types of attributes can be associated with tornadic events. Tornado reports are used since the ground truth tornado set is more reliable than other databases of severe weather phenomena. Basic skill scores and more advanced principal component methods are used to quantify the correlation between vortex detection attributes and tornadoes.

The results of this analysis reveal that only a very small percentage (<5%) of vortex detections, using the most basic definition, are associated with the occurrence of a tornado. Percentages increase to approximately 10% as the criteria for defining a vortex detection as a mesocyclone detection become more strict; however, many tornadic events are only associated with weaker detections and are “missed” when the detection threshold is increased. Several velocity-derived detection attributes are shown to have weak to moderate predictive ability when determining whether a detection is (or is not) tornadic.

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T. Vukicevic, M. Sengupta, A. S. Jones, and T. Vonder Haar

Abstract

This study addresses the problem of four-dimensional (4D) estimation of a cloudy atmosphere on cloud-resolving scales using satellite remote sensing measurements. The motivation is to develop a methodology for accurate estimation of cloud properties and the associated atmospheric environment on small spatial scales but over large regions to aid in better understanding of the clouds and their role in the atmospheric system. The problem is initially approached by the study of the assimilation of the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) imager observations into a cloud-resolving model with explicit bulk cloud microphysical parameterization. A new 4D variational data assimilation (4DVAR) research system with the cloud-resolving capability is applied to a case of a multilayered cloud evolution without convection. In the experiments the information content of the IR window channels is addressed as well as the sensitivity of estimation to lateral boundary condition errors, model first guess, decorrelation length in the background statistical error model, and the use of a generic linear model error. The assimilation results are compared with independent observations from the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) central facility archive.

The modeled 3D spatial distribution and short-term evolution of the ice cloud mass is significantly improved by the assimilation of IR window channels when the model already contains conditions for the ice cloud formation. The assimilated ice cloud in this case is in good agreement with the independent cloud radar measurements. The simulation of liquid clouds below thick ice clouds is not influenced by the IR window observations. The assimilation results clearly demonstrate that increasing the observational constraint from individual to combined channel measurements and from less to more frequent observation times systematically improves the assimilation results. The experiments with the model error indicate that the current specification of this error in the form of a generic linear forcing, which was adopted from other data assimilation studies, is not suitable for the cloud-resolving data assimilation. Instead, a parameter estimation approach may need to be explored in the future. The experiments with varying decorrelation lengths suggest the need to use the model horizontal grid spacing that is several times smaller than the GOES imager native resolution to achieve equivalent spatial variability in the assimilation.

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Thomas A. Jones, David J. Stensrud, Patrick Minnis, and Rabindra Palikonda

Abstract

Assimilating satellite-retrieved cloud properties into storm-scale models has received limited attention despite its potential to provide a wide array of information to a model analysis. Available retrievals include cloud water path (CWP), which represents the amount of cloud water and cloud ice present in an integrated column, and cloud-top and cloud-base pressures, which represent the top and bottom pressure levels of the cloud layers, respectively. These interrelated data are assimilated into an Advanced Research Weather Research and Forecasting Model (ARW-WRF) 40-member ensemble with 3-km grid spacing using the Data Assimilation Research Testbed (DART) ensemble Kalman filter. A new CWP forward operator combines the satellite-derived cloud information with similar variables generated by WRF. This approach is tested using a severe weather event on 10 May 2010. One experiment only assimilates conventional (CONV) observations, while the second assimilates the identical conventional observations and the satellite-derived CWP (PATH).

Comparison of the CWP observations at 2045 UTC to CONV and PATH analyses shows that PATH has an improved representation of both the magnitude and spatial orientation of CWP compared to CONV. Assimilating CWP acts both to suppress convection in the model where none is present in satellite data and to encourage convection where it is observed. Oklahoma Mesonet observations of downward shortwave flux at 2100 UTC indicate that PATH reduces the root-mean-square difference errors in downward shortwave flux by 75 W m−2 compared to CONV. Reduction in model error is generally maximized during the initial 30-min forecast period with the impact of CWP observations decreasing for longer forecast times.

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Peter A. Stott, Gareth S. Jones, and John F. B. Mitchell

Abstract

Current attribution analyses that seek to determine the relative contributions of different forcing agents to observed near-surface temperature changes underestimate the importance of weak signals, such as that due to changes in solar irradiance. Here a new attribution method is applied that does not have a systematic bias against weak signals.

It is found that current climate models underestimate the observed climate response to solar forcing over the twentieth century as a whole, indicating that the climate system has a greater sensitivity to solar forcing than do models. The results from this research show that increases in solar irradiance are likely to have had a greater influence on global-mean temperatures in the first half of the twentieth century than the combined effects of changes in anthropogenic forcings. Nevertheless the results confirm previous analyses showing that greenhouse gas increases explain most of the global warming observed in the second half of the twentieth century.

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Thomas A. Jones, Daniel J. Cecil, and Jason Dunion

Abstract

The evolution of Hurricane Erin (2001) is presented from the perspective of its environmental and inner-core conditions, particularly as they are characterized in the Statistical Hurricane Intensity Prediction Scheme with Microwave Imagery (SHIPS-MI). Erin can be described as having two very distinct periods. The first, which occurred between 1 and 6 September 2001, was characterized by a struggling tropical storm failing to intensify as the result of unfavorable environmental and inner-core conditions. The surrounding environment during this period was dominated by moderate shear and mid- to upper-level dry air, both caused in some part by the presence of a Saharan air layer (SAL). Further intensification was inhibited by the lack of sustained deep convection and latent heating near the low-level center. The authors attribute this in part to negative effects from the SAL. The thermodynamic conditions associated with the SAL were not well sampled by the SHIPS parameters, resulting in substantial overforecasting by both SHIPS and SHIPS-MI. Instead, the hostile conditions surrounding Erin caused its dissipation on 6 September. The second period began on 7 September when Erin re-formed north of the original center. Erin began to pull away from the SAL and moved over 29°C sea surface temperatures, beginning a rapid intensification phase and reaching 105 kt by 1800 UTC 9 September. SHIPS-MI forecasts called for substantial intensification as in the previous period, but this time the model underestimated the rate of intensification. The addition of inner-core characteristics from passive microwave data improved the skill somewhat compared to SHIPS, but still left much room for improvement. For this period, it appears that the increasingly favorable atmospheric conditions caused by Erin moving away from the SAL were not well sampled by SHIPS or SHIPS-MI. As a result, the intensity change forecasts were not able to take into account the more favorable environment.

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Floyd A. Huff, Stanley A. Changnon Jr., and Douglas M. A. Jones

Abstract

Long-term precipitation records indicated that, on the average, 15% more warm season precipitation falls on the forested western Shawnee Hills of southern Illinois than falls on the rural farm flatlands at 120 m lower elevations both north and south of the hills. This precipitation difference with relatively little elevation change offered an interesting opportunity to study the effect of orographic and land-use differences upon convective precipitation. Initially, two methods differing in scale and time were used to delineate the bill anomaly and to investigate its causes. Extensive climatic studies of all available precipitation data revealed that the effect of the hills was most pronounced during the warm season when showers and thunderstorms are the major source of precipitation. A subsequent 5-yr study involving a dense recording raingage and wind recording network showed that the hill-related increases apparently came through enhancement of heavy showers, particularly those associated with squall-line and cold-frontal conditions. This led to an intensive field study in July 1970 described in the companion paper (Part 2).

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Stanley A. Changnon Jr., Douglas M. A. Jones, and Floyd A. Huff

Abstract

The studies described in the companion paper (Part 1) led to an intensive field study in July 1970. The field study employed networks of recording raingages, wind recorders, and hygrothermographs, along with a meteorological radar, cloud cameras, and a meteorologically-instrumented aircraft. The study occurred in an abnormally dry period with mostly air mass showers (non-frontal storm). These air mass showers were found to be enhanced partially by the moisture derived from the forested hills under low wind speed conditions. In addition, the low speed winds from the south were found to be directed by the valleys within the hills, so as to develop a convergent pattern above the hills where the atmosphere was convectively unstable.

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