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B. B. Balsley and A. C. Riddle

Abstract

Monthly-averaged horizontal and vertical mesospheric wind fields have been measured using the Poker Flat Radar at 65°N latitude during 15 months in 1980–81. The horizontal wind fields are reasonably consistent with previous observations and with some of the current theoretical models that take into account enhanced turbulence and eddy transport observed at mesospheric heights. However, the observed vertical wind field has a quasi-sinusoidal seasonal variation with peak values of 25 cm s−1 both downward near summer solstice and upward near winter solstice and is inconsistent with current models of mean circulation in the meridional plane. Because there are no other comparable vertical wind observations, the possibility of error in the vertical wind measurements was carefully considered and rejected. We conclude that the actual mean circulation is more complex than that implied by current models. Possible complicating factors include nonuniform zonal flow, multicellular meridional structure and an enhanced vertical Stokes drift that would arise from strong eddy activity.

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B. B. Balsley, D. A. Carter, A. C. Riddle, W. L. Ecklund, and K. S. Gage

In this paper we provide a set of examples to demonstrate the potential of VHF radar wind profilers for studying tropical convection processes. Our examples were extracted from data obtained from the NOAA/CU Pacific Profiler Network, which has been in operation for a number of years and is currently being expanded.

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B. B. Balsley, A. C. Riddle, W. L. Ecklund, and D. A. Carter

Abstract

We present the analysis of three months of continuous sea-surface current data obtained by a VHF wind profiling radar at Christmas Island in the central equatorial Pacific. These results, which were obtained during the construction phase of the profiler when the antenna had not yet been phased to eliminate sea scatter, show a number of interesting features of the coastal flow, as well as the flow at greater distances from the island. We report here both the average surface current characteristics as well as features of the shorter-term variability. In addition, we discuss the idea that such sea-surface current measurements could be obtained quite easily in the central Pacific, provided that they were made in conjunction with existing and/or proposed profiler sites.

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B. B. Balsley, W. L. Ecklund, D. A. Carter, A. C. Riddle, and K. S. Gage

Abstract

Average vertical profiles of the vertical wind obtained under clear sky conditions as weal as under conditions of both light-to-moderate and heavy rainfall am presented from data obtained using a radar wind profiler located on the island of Pohnpei (latitude 7°N, longitude 157°E). The average profiles for the precipitation conditions were obtained, insofar as possible, under conditions similar to those present within the stratiform and convective regions of tropical mesoscale convective complexes. Comparison between the vertical wind profiles obtained from the wind profiler and vertical wind profiles obtained earlier by wore conventional methods (i.e., deduced from the convergence-divergence of mesoscale horizontal winds) shows that, while the general features of the profiles obtained by both techniques are similar, the profiler results exhibit somewhat more detail. The profiler is able to resolve long-term average vertical motions down to the, ∼cm s−1 subsidence that occurs under clear air conditions. Additional evidence for an apparent difference between vertical wind profiles in the Atlantic and Pacific regions in heavy convection reported earlier, is presented.

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Anthony C. Riddle, Leslie M. Hartten, David A. Carter, Paul E. Johnston, and Christopher R. Williams

Abstract

One limiting factor in atmospheric radar observations is the inability to distinguish the often weak atmospheric signals from fluctuations of the noise. This study presents a minimum threshold of usability, SNRmin, for signal-to-noise ratios obtained from wind profiling radars. The basic form arises from theoretical considerations of radar noise; the final form includes empirical modifications based on radar observations. While SNRmin was originally developed using data from the 50-MHz profiler at Poker Flat, Alaska, it works well with data collected from a wide range of locations, frequencies, and parameter settings. It provides an objective criterion to accept or reject individual spectra, can be quickly applied to a large quantity of data, and has a false-alarm rate of approximately 0.1%. While this threshold’s form depends on the methods used to calculate SNR and spectral moments, variations of the threshold could be developed for use with data processed by other methods.

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K. S. Gage, W. L. Ecklund, A. C. Riddle, and B. B. Balsley

Abstract

The magnitude of backscattered power observed at vertical incidence by a VHF radar is related to atmospheric stability in accordance with the Fresnel scattering model. Utilizing a modified Fresnel scattering model, we can determine tropopause height objectively from the observed vertical profile of backscattered power. The method is tested with observations of the Alpine Experiment (ALPEX; France), Platteville, Colorado and Poker Mat, Alaska radars taken since 1979. Using 750 m resolution the tropopause is found to be within a few hundred meters of the tropopause determined from nearly simultaneous radiosonde observations and using 2.2 km resolution the tropopause is found to be within about 600 m. Furthermore, radar-determined tropopause heights can be automatically scaled from existing records, or even routinely determined on-line.

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K. S. Gage, J. R. Mcafee, W. L. Ecklund, D. A. Carter, C. R. Williams, P. E. Johnston, and A. C. Riddle

Abstract

After a decade of development, VHF wind profilers are being used for atmospheric research at several locations in the tropical Pacific. A prototype 50-MHz wind profiler was installed on Christmas Island in 1985 and has operated continuously since March 1986 to monitor tropical wind fields in the altitude range 1.8–1 8 km. This paper presents an overview of the Christmas Island wind profiler and reviews its performance. A survey of sample wind observations and a brief climatology of the observed winds are included.

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E. R. Westwater, Y. Han, J. B. Snider, J. H. Churnside, J. A. Shaw, M. J. Falls, C. N. Long, T. P. Ackerman, K. S. Gage, W. Ecklund, and A. Riddle

From 6 January to 28 February 1993, the second phase of the Pilot Radiation Observation Experiment (PROBE) was conducted in Kavieng, Papua New Guinea. Routine data taken during PROBE included radiosondes released every 6 h and 915-MHz Wind Profiler–Radio Acoustic Sounding System (RASS) observations of winds and temperatures. In addition, a dual-channel Microwave Water Substance Radiometer (MWSR) at 23.87 and 31.65 GHz and a Fourier Transform Infrared Radiometer (FTIR) were operated. The FTIR operated between 500 and 2000 cm−1 and measured some of the first high spectral resolution (1 cm−1) radiation data taken in the Tropics. The microwave radiometer provided continuous measurements within 30-s resolution of precipitable water vapor (PWV) and integrated cloud liquid, while the RASS measured virtual temperature profiles every 30 min. In addition, occasional lidar soundings of cloud-base heights were available. The MWSR and FTIR data taken during PROBE were compared with radiosonde data. Significant differences were noted between the MWSR and the radiosonde observations of PWV. The probability distribution of cloud liquid water was derived and is consistent with a lognormal distribution. During conditions that the MWSR did not indicate the presence of cloud liquid water, broadband long- and shortwave irradiance data were used to identify the presence of cirrus clouds or to confirm the presence of clear conditions. Comparisons are presented between measured and calculated radiance during clear conditions, using radiosonde data as input to a line-by-line Radiative Transfer Model. A case study is given of a drying event in which the PWV dropped from about 5.5 cm to a low of 3.8 cm during a 24-h period. The observations during the drying event are interpreted using PWV images obtained from data from the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program/Special Sensor Microwave/Imager and of horizontal flow measured by the wind profiler. The broadband irradiance data and the RASS soundings were also examined during the drying event.

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J. M. Wilczak, R. G. Strauch, F. M. Ralph, B. L. Weber, D. A. Merritt, J. R. Jordan, D. E. Wolfe, L. K. Lewis, D. B. Wuertz, J. E. Gaynor, S. A. McLaughlin, R. R. Rogers, A. C. Riddle, and T. S. Dye

Abstract

Winds measured with 915- and 404-MHz wind profilers are frequently found to have nonrandom errors as large as 15 m s−1 when compared to simultaneously measured rawinsonde winds. Detailed studies of these errors which occur only at night below about 4 km in altitude and have a pronounced seasonal pattern, indicate that they are due to the wind profilers' detection of migrating songbirds (passerines). Characteristics of contaminated data at various stages of data processing are described, including raw time series, individual spectra, averaged spectra, 30- or 60-s moments, 3- or 6-min winds, and hourly averaged winds. An automated technique for the rejection of contaminated data in historical datasets, based on thresholding high values of rnoment-level reflectivity and spectral width, is shown to be effective. Techniques designed for future wind profiter data acquisition systems are described that show promise for rejecting bird echoes, with the additional capability of being able to retrieve the true wind velocity in many instances. Finally, characteristics of bird migration revealed by wind profilers are described, including statistics of the spring (March–May) 1993 migration season determined from the 404-MHz Wind Profiler Demonstration Network (WPDN). During that time, contamination of moment data occurred on 43% of the nights monitored.

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