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David Atlas and Christopher R. Williams

Abstract

This study provides a very clear picture of the microphysics and flow field in a convective storm in the Rondonia region of Brazil through a synthesis of observations from two unique radars, measurements of the surface drop size distribution (DSD), and particle types and sizes from an aircraft penetration. The primary findings are 1) the growth of rain by the collision–coalescence–breakup (CCB) process to equilibrium drop size distributions entirely below the 0°C level; 2) the subsequent growth of larger ice particles (graupel and hail) at subfreezing temperatures; 3) the paucity of lightning activity during the former process, and the increased lightning frequency during the latter; 4) the occurrence of strong downdrafts and a downburst during the latter phase of the storm resulting from cooling by melting and evaporation; 5) the occurrence of turbulence along the main streamlines of the storm; and 6) the confirmation of the large drops reached during the CCB growth by polarimetric radar observations. These interpretations have been made possible by estimating the updraft magnitude using the “lower bound” of the Doppler spectrum at vertical incidence, and identifying the “balance level” at which particles are supported for growth. The combination of these methods shows where raindrops are supported for extended periods to allow their growth to equilibrium drop size distributions, while smaller drops ascend and large ones descend. A hypothesis worthy of pursuit is the control of the storm motion by the winds at the balance level, which is the effective precipitation generating level. Above the 0°C level the balance level separates the small ascending ice crystals from the large descending graupel and hail. Collisions between the two cause electrical charging, while gravity and the updrafts separate the charges to cause lightning. Below the 0°C level, large downward velocities (caused by the above-mentioned cooling) in excess of the terminal fall speeds of raindrops represent the downbursts, which are manifested in the surface winds.

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David Atlas, Carlton W. Ulbrich, and Christopher R. Williams

Abstract

A unique set of Doppler and polarimetric radar observations were made of a microburst-producing storm in Amazonia during the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) Large-Scale Biosphere–Atmosphere (LBA) field experiment. The key features are high reflectivity (50 dBZ) and modest size hail (up to 0.8 mm) in high liquid water concentrations (>4 g m−3) at the 5-km 0°C level, melting near the 3-km level as evidenced by the Doppler spectrum width on the profiler radar (PR), by differential polarization on the S-band dual-polarized radar (S-POL), and a sharp downward acceleration from 2.8 to 1.6 km to a peak downdraft of 11 m s−1, followed by a weak microburst of 15 m s−1 at the surface. The latter features closely match the initial conditions and results of the Srivastava numerical model of a microburst produced by melting hail. It is suggested that only modest size hail in large concentrations that melt aloft can produce wet microbursts. The narrower the distribution of hail particle sizes, the more confined will be the layer of melting and negative buoyancy, and the more intense the microburst. It is hypothesized that the timing of the conditions leading to the microburst is determined by the occurrence of an updraft of proper magnitude in the layer in which supercooled water accounts for the growth of hail or graupel.

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David G. Murcray, James N. Brooks, Frank H. Murcray, and Walter J. Williams

Abstract

A balloon flight made 4 February 1970 with an infrared spectral radiometer system scanning from 10 to 13 μm ascended through an extensive cirrus cloud. This allowed measurements to be made of the spectral radiance of the cloud both underneath and in the cloud as the balloon ascended. The spectra obtained are presented and the data were used to determine the emissivity of the cloud at 11 μm. The value ∈=0.38 is in reasonable agreement with values found by Kuhn and Weickmann.

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Stephen D. Eckermann, Dave Broutman, Jun Ma, James D. Doyle, Pierre-Dominique Pautet, Michael J. Taylor, Katrina Bossert, Bifford P. Williams, David C. Fritts, and Ronald B. Smith

Abstract

On 14 July 2014 during the Deep Propagating Gravity Wave Experiment (DEEPWAVE), aircraft remote sensing instruments detected large-amplitude gravity wave oscillations within mesospheric airglow and sodium layers at altitudes z ~ 78–83 km downstream of the Auckland Islands, located ~1000 km south of Christchurch, New Zealand. A high-altitude reanalysis and a three-dimensional Fourier gravity wave model are used to investigate the dynamics of this event. At 0700 UTC when the first observations were made, surface flow across the islands’ terrain generated linear three-dimensional wave fields that propagated rapidly to z ~ 78 km, where intense breaking occurred in a narrow layer beneath a zero-wind region at z ~ 83 km. In the following hours, the altitude of weak winds descended under the influence of a large-amplitude migrating semidiurnal tide, leading to intense breaking of these wave fields in subsequent observations starting at 1000 UTC. The linear Fourier model constrained by upstream reanalysis reproduces the salient aspects of observed wave fields, including horizontal wavelengths, phase orientations, temperature and vertical displacement amplitudes, heights and locations of incipient wave breaking, and momentum fluxes. Wave breaking has huge effects on local circulations, with inferred layer-averaged westward flow accelerations of ~350 m s−1 h−1 and dynamical heating rates of ~8 K h−1, supporting recent speculation of important impacts of orographic gravity waves from subantarctic islands on the mean circulation and climate of the middle atmosphere during austral winter.

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