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Sandra E. Yuter and Wendy S. Parker


Fifteen rain measurement instruments were deployed on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Ship Ronald H. Brown during the 1997 Pan American Climate Studies (PACS) Tropical Eastern Pacific Process Study (TEPPS). To examine differences in rainfall catchment related to instrument design, three types of disdrometers, an optical rain gauge, a ship rain gauge, and a siphon gauge were clustered in one location to ensure similar exposure. To address exposure effects, eight siphon rain gauges were deployed on different sides of the ship and on several different levels.

Cross-ship differences in hourly rainfall accumulation were negligible when relative wind speeds were less than 3 m s−1 and became significant at greater than 5 m s−1, especially when the relative wind direction was 20° or greater from the bow. Instruments with both horizontal and vertical catchment surfaces yielded a measurable collection advantage over instruments with only horizontal catchment surfaces.

Analysis of data collected during TEPPS using a multiple-instrument, multiple-location approach yields the following recommendations for reducing uncertainty in rain measurement at sea. The first two of the four recommendations apply to rain measurements on buoys as well as on ships. 1) Deploy experimental rain measurement instrumentation paired with a baseline minimum siphon gauge or other trusted instrument. Comparison of the rain-rate time series between the baseline gauge measurements and the experimental instrument data permits detection of erratic behavior and bias. 2) Apply an appropriate wind correction. To do this step properly, both a wind correction formula derived for the specific gauge type and a nearby measurement of relative wind are needed. These features are already incorporated into the ship rain gauge. 3) Locate gauges where distortion of the airflow by the ship is locally minimized and relative wind speeds are as low as possible. This analysis confirms previous recommendations for placement of rain instrumentation at lower locations as long as the location is protected against direct spray from the sea without being shadowed by higher objects. 4) Place instrumentation on both sides of ship and along centerline. Airflow distortion by the ship itself can induce significant differences between port and starboard accumulations at high wind speeds and high angle of wind attack to the bow. Multiple locations aid in constraining error, because relative wind direction and speed vary during a cruise and there is no one perfect location on ship for rain instrumentation.

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David B. Mechem, Carly S. Wittman, Matthew A. Miller, Sandra E. Yuter, and Simon P. de Szoeke


Marine boundary layer clouds are modified by processes at different spatial and temporal scales. To isolate the processes governing aerosol–cloud–precipitation interactions, multiday synoptic variability of the environment must be accounted for. Information on the location of low clouds relative to the ridge–trough pattern gives insight into how cloud properties vary as a function of environmental subsidence and stability. The technique of self-organizing maps (SOMs) is employed to objectively classify the 500-hPa geopotential height patterns for 33 years of reanalysis fields (ERA-Interim) into pretrough, trough, posttrough, ridge, and zonal-flow categories. The SOM technique is applied to a region of prevalent marine low cloudiness over the eastern North Atlantic Ocean that is centered on the Azores island chain, the location of a long-term U.S. Department of Energy observation site. The Azores consistently lie in an area of substantial variability in synoptic configuration, thermodynamic environment, and cloud properties. The SOM method was run in two ways to emphasize multiday and seasonal variability separately. Over and near the Azores, there is an east-to-west sloshing back and forth of the western edge of marine low clouds associated with different synoptic states. The different synoptic states also exhibit substantial north–south variability in the position of high clouds. For any given month of the year, there is large year-to-year variability in the occurrence of different synoptic states. Hence, estimating the climatological behavior of clouds from short-term field campaigns has large uncertainties. This SOM approach is a robust method that is broadly applicable to characterizing synoptic regimes for any location.

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