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Peter T. May

Abstract

A slow-moving weak tropical cyclone passed near Darwin, Australia, in December 1990. Rainbands were observed by a Doppler weather radar and a 50-MHz wind profiler for over 24 h. The principal bands were seen to be organized on two distinct scales. Bands of stratiform precipitation formed at a radius of about 100 km from the center of the storm and moved outward at about 6 m s−1. These decayed after they moved past Darwin over land. A distinct midlevel jet extended along the bands. Within the bands, convective lines formed at regular intervals, propagated against and outward with respect to the mean flow, and acted as a partial barrier to the radial inflow. Deep, active convection was confined to these lines. The vertical motion in the convection showed a distinct acceleration above the freezing level with measured updrafts of up to 10 m s−1. The convection elevated the tropopause height over the rainband. It is hypothesized that an inertia-gravity wave propagating from near the storm eye was responsible for triggering the convection within the lines. This hypothesis, although difficult to test, accounts for the propagation characteristics of the convective lines and offers an explanation of why similar features have not been seen in more intense storms.

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Peter T. May

Abstract

High-time-resolution wind profiler/RASS observations are used to describe the vertical velocity, temperature, and reflectivity fields of two gust fronts in detail. The first was a freely propagating gust front and the second interacted with a rain cell near the profiler site. The first of these shows a large updraft confined to the warm air ahead of the front. This updraft coincided with the (nonhydrostatic) pressure jump. The vertical motions within the gust front were an order of magnitude smaller. The updraft impinging on the top of the boundary layer excited a clear gravity wave signature in the free troposphere. The interaction of the vertical circulation and the weakly precipitating cloud in the second case coincided with explosive growth of the cell with reflectivities increasing from ∼30 dBZ to >50 dBZ in 6 min. A descending reflectivity core was observed at this time. Precipitation loading played a significant role in a downdraft behind the gust front head leading to adiabatic warming as no evidence of evaporative cooling in the downdraft was seen. A distinct clear air peak was visible in the profiler Doppler spectra even during the heavy rain.

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Peter T. May and Andrew Ballinger

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A season of operational cell and track data from Darwin, Australia, has been analyzed to explore the statistical characteristics of the convective cell heights. The statistics for the monsoon and break regimes are significantly different with the break season cells being higher for a given reflectivity threshold. The monsoon cells produce more rain, but there are fewer intense cells and there is a much larger contribution from stratiform rain. The monsoon cells are also slightly larger, but shorter lived than the breaks. The shorter lifetime may reflect a more rapid transition to a longer-lived stratiform character. The monsoon regime is shown to be associated with large-scale ascent and higher humidity that may lead to more frequent, but weaker cells. Within regimes, the subset of intense cells generally reach near the tropopause or overshoot. However, there is little evidence in the data for a multimodal distribution of cell heights, except perhaps for the intense monsoon cases. Instead, the picture is a continuous distribution of cell heights with the peak of the distribution shifting to higher values as the distributions are conditioned on higher reflectivity.

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Peter T. May and Deepak K. Rajopadhyaya

Abstract

Data from a wind profiler located at Darwin, Australia, have been used to examine the vertical motions and precipitation microphysics in a well-developed squall line. Both a mature and developing convective cell are well sampled. The vertical motions within the mature cell are dominated by the effect of glaciation and a convective downdraft feeding a cold pool. The strong updrafts are accompanied by supercooled water as much as 2 km above the freezing level. The two cells are separated by a narrow region of deep descent. The developing cell has a low-level maximum in upward motion coinciding with high radar reflectivity below 3 km, suggesting warm rain processes. There is a large transition region with deep descent and a stratiform region with a classic up- and downdraft circulation. The precipitation characteristics show the aggregation of ice particles as they descend in the stratiform region. Over half of the rain is seen to evaporate between 4 and 2 km. The cooling implied by this and the heating by the growth of ice particulates above the melting level balance the mesoscale circulation in the stratiform region. The Q 1, heating profile is consistent with previous studies above 4 km but shows a net cooling below this. This may in part be due to the storm being sampled when the system was mature with extensive convective downdrafts.

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Peter T. May and Deepak K. Rajopadhyaya
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Peter T. May and James M. Wilczak

Abstract

A wind profiler-radio acoustic sounding system at Denver collected hourly wind and virtual-temperature data through the boundary layer in the latter half of 1989. Analyzed monthly averages of 24-h time-height cross sections of the daily measurements show a number of significant features. The growth of the nocturnal temperature inversion is observed, followed by a rapid transition to a deep daytime mixed layer. The progression from a strong diurnal temperature signal in the summer to weak diurnal variability in the winter is documented. A mean upslope wind component is found in the middle-to-late afternoon in the summer and autumn months, with a reverse, return flow aloft. Boundary-layer winds show a strong inertial oscillation, with the phase closely following the diurnal heating cycle. Perturbation winds in the return-flow region aloft oscillate almost 180° out of phase with the boundary-layer winds.

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Peter T. May and Deepak K. Rajopadhyaya

Abstract

Continuous vertical velocity measurements using a 50-MHz wind profiler located at Darwin in northern Australia during periods of active convection have been analyzed. This dataset is dominated by continental-type convection. Numerous examples of shallow, deep, and decaying convection were seen and it is shown that only the deep systems have substantial tilts to the draft structure. The most intense updrafts occur above the freezing level, but shallow convection also produces large-amplitude vertical motions. The strength of these updrafts in this dataset is very similar to other tropical, oceanic data. That observation is consistent with the idea that the magnitude of the updrafts is much less in the Tropics than for intense midlatitude convection because the convective available potential energy is distributed over a much deeper layer in the Tropics, although more intense updrafts may be present at other tropical locations, such as the Tiwi Islands north of Darwin. The size of the cores, however, is significantly greater here than with oceanic data and is similar to midlatitude results, thus supporting the suggestion that boundary layer depth is important in determining the horizontal scale. There is a net detrainment in the upward cores above the freezing level occurring at all space scales. The mass flux in intense updrafts is almost constant with height below the freezing level but is almost cancelled by downdrafts and the immediate surrounding environment. Two populations of downdrafts are seen, one a dynamical response associated with intense updrafts at all heights and a second driven by precipitation processes below the freezing level. The core size, intensity, and mass flux are all approximately lognormally distributed. It is shown that a wide range of velocity and size scales contribute to the upward mass flux.

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Peter T. May, J. D. Kepert, and T. D. Keenan

Abstract

Tropical Cyclone Ingrid had a distinctly asymmetric reflectivity structure with an offshore maximum as it passed parallel to and over an extended coastline near a polarimetric weather radar located near Darwin, northern Australia. For the first time in a tropical cyclone, polarimetric weather radar microphysical analyses are used to identify extensive graupel and rain–hail mixtures in the eyewall. The overall microphysical structure was similar to that seen in some other asymmetric storms that have been sampled by research aircraft. Both environmental shear and the land–sea interface contributed significantly to the asymmetry, but their relative contributions were not determined. The storm also underwent very rapid changes in tangential wind speed as it moved over a narrow region of open ocean between a peninsula and the Tiwi Islands. The time scale for changes of 10 m s−1 was of the order of 1 h. There were also two distinct types of rainbands observed—large-scale principal bands with embedded deep convection and small-scale bands located within 50 km of the eyewall with shallow convective cells.

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Paul J. Neiman, Peter T. May, and M. A. Shapiro

Abstract

The National 0ceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Wave Propagation Laboratory (WPL) wind profilers and accompanying radio acoustic sounding system (RASS) temperature profilers in eastern Colorado jointly measure nearly continuous (≤1 h), high vertical resolution (≤300 m) wind-velocity and virtual-temperature profiles. This study presents NOAA/WPL wind profiler and RASS observations and diagnostics of propagating lower- and midtropospheric weather systems over Colorado. The wind and temperature remote-sensing systems observed wind-velocity and virtual-temperature structures associated with a synoptic-scale trough and embedded fronts, and a propagating short-wave trough and trailing midtropospheric jet-stream-frontal-zone (jet-front) system. Single-station hourly diagnostic calculations of geopotential heights, horizontal virtual potential temperature gradients, thermal advections, vertical velocities gradient Richardson numbers, and cross-frontal isentropic potential vorticity demonstrate that dynamically consistent synoptic-scale and mesoscale signals can be obtained by combining wind profiler and RASS observations. The wind profilers and RASS documented mesoscale wind velocity and thermal features up to 400 mb that were unresolved temporally and spatially by the synoptic-scale rawinsonde network. Results demonstrate the potential for multisystem (network) applications of this revolutionary technology for describing the temporal and spatial evolution of synoptic-scale and mesoscale weather systems.

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Charmaine N. Franklin, Greg J. Holland, and Peter T. May

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A high-resolution tropical cyclone model with explicit cloud microphysics has been used to investigate the dynamics and energetics of tropical cyclone rainbands. As a first step, the model rainbands have been qualitatively compared with observed rainband characteristics. The model-generated rainbands show many of the mesoscale and convective-scale features of observed tropical cyclone rainbands. Sensitivity studies of numerically simulated tropical cyclone convection to ice-phase microphysical parameters showed that the model was most sensitive to changes in the graupel fall speed parameters. Increasing the fall speeds saw graupel being confined to the convective regions and producing higher rain rates in the inner core of the storm. A greater region of stratiform precipitation was produced when the efficiency for the collection of snow and cloud ice by graupel was reduced and when the mean size of graupel was reduced. Both of these simulations resulted in a higher concentration of snow being transported into the stratiform region. Although the precipitation structure changed across the simulations, the surface rainfall rate and the fundamental dynamical variables showed little sensitivity to the parameter variations.

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