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George C. Craig and Andreas Dörnbrack

Abstract

Systematic numerical experiments were conducted to determine the spatial resolution required to resolve a moist thermal show convergence at a scale proportional to the smaller of the initial thermal diameter D 0 and a buoyancy length scale L buoy. The buoyancy length scale L buoy = ΔT 0/ΔΓ (ΔT 0 is the initial buoyancy excess of the thermal and ΔΓ is the ambient stratification) describes the maximum vertical displacement that can be induced against the stratification in the environment by buoyancy-driven pressure perturbations in the cloud and, thus, the maximum scale of eddies that cross the cloud boundary. For typical atmospheric conditions in which the cloud size D 0 is larger than L buoy, numerical simulations of the mixing processes in cumulus clouds must resolve L buoy.

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Nonlinear Simulations of Gravity Wave Tunneling and Breaking over Auckland Island

Tyler Mixa, Andreas Dörnbrack, and Markus Rapp

Abstract

Horizontally dispersing gravity waves with horizontal wavelengths of 30–40 km were observed at mesospheric altitudes over Auckland Island by the airborne advanced mesospheric temperature mapper during a Deep Propagating Gravity Wave Experiment (DEEPWAVE) research flight on 14 July 2014. A 3D nonlinear compressible model is used to determine which propagation conditions enabled gravity wave penetration into the mesosphere and how the resulting instability characteristics led to widespread momentum deposition. Results indicate that linear tunneling through the polar night jet enabled quick gravity wave propagation from the surface up to the mesopause, while subsequent instability processes reveal large rolls that formed in the negative shear above the jet maximum and led to significant momentum deposition as they descended. This study suggests that gravity wave tunneling is a viable source for this case and other deep propagation events reaching the mesosphere and lower thermosphere.

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Martin Weissmann, Andreas Dörnbrack, and James D. Doyle

Abstract

A method is presented to compute the spanwise vorticity in polar coordinates from 2D vertical cross sections of high-resolution line-of-sight Doppler wind lidar observations. The method uses the continuity equation to derive the velocity component perpendicular to the observed line-of-sight velocity, which then yields the spanwise vorticity component. The results of the method are tested using a ground-based Doppler lidar, which was deployed during the Terrain-Induced Rotor Experiment (T-REX). The resulting fields can be used to identify and quantify the strength and size of vortices, such as those associated with atmospheric rotors. Furthermore, they may serve to investigate the dynamics and evolution of vortices and to evaluate numerical simulations. A demonstration of the method and comparison with high-resolution numerical simulations reveals that the derived vorticity can explain 66% of the mean-square vorticity fluctuations, has a reasonably skillful magnitude, exhibits no significant bias, and is in qualitative agreement with model-derived vorticity.

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Christian Kühnlein, Andreas Dörnbrack, and Martin Weissmann

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The authors present observations of the temporal evolution of downslope windstorms with rotors and internal hydraulic jumps of unprecedented detail and spatiotemporal coverage. The observations were carried out by means of a coherent Doppler lidar in the lee of the southern Sierra Nevada range during the sixth intensive observational period of the Terrain-induced Rotor Experiment (T-REX) in 2006. Two representative flow regimes are analyzed and juxtaposed in this paper. The first case shows pulses of high-momentum air that propagate eastward through the valley with an internal hydraulic jump on the leading edge. The region downstream of the transient internal hydraulic jump is characterized by turbulence but no coherent rotor circulation was observed. During the second case, the strongest windstorm of the field campaign T-REX occurred. The observed features of this event resemble the classical notion of a rotor. Altogether, the Doppler lidar observations of both downslope flow events reveal a complex, turbulent flow that is highly transient, intermittent, 3D, and interacts with a significant along-valley flow.

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Andreas Schäfler, Andreas Dörnbrack, Christoph Kiemle, Stephan Rahm, and Martin Wirth

Abstract

The first collocated measurements during THORPEX (The Observing System Research and Predictability Experiment) regional campaign in Europe in 2007 were performed by a novel four-wavelength differential absorption lidar and a scanning 2-μm Doppler wind lidar on board the research aircraft Falcon of the Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR). One mission that was characterized by exceptionally high data coverage (47% for the specific humidity q and 63% for the horizontal wind speed υh) was selected to calculate the advective transport of atmospheric moisture h along a 1600-km section in the warm sector of an extratropical cyclone. The observations are compared with special 1-hourly model data calculated by the ECMWF integrated forecast system. Along the cross section, the model underestimates the wind speed on average by −2.8% (−0.6 m s−1) and overestimates the moisture at dry layers and in the boundary layer, which results in a wet bias of 17.1% (0.2 g kg−1). Nevertheless, the ECMWF model reproduces quantitatively the horizontally averaged moisture transport in the warm sector. There, the superposition of high low-level humidity and the increasing wind velocities with height resulted in a deep tropospheric layer of enhanced water vapor transport h. The observed moisture transport is variable and possesses a maximum of h = 130 g kg−1 m s−1 in the lower troposphere. The pathways of the moisture transport from southwest via several branches of different geographical origin are identified by Lagrangian trajectories and by high values of the vertically averaged tropospheric moisture transport.

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Benjamin Witschas, Stephan Rahm, Andreas Dörnbrack, Johannes Wagner, and Markus Rapp

Abstract

Airborne coherent Doppler wind lidar measurements, acquired during the Gravity Wave Life-Cycle (GW-LCYCLE) I field campaign performed from 2 to 14 December 2013 in Kiruna, Sweden, are used to investigate internal gravity waves (GWs) induced by flow across the Scandinavian Mountains. Vertical wind speed is derived from lidar measurements with a mean bias of less than 0.05 m s−1 and a standard deviation of 0.2 m s−1 by correcting horizontal wind projections onto the line-of-sight direction by means of ECMWF wind data. The horizontal wind speed and direction are retrieved from lidar measurements by applying a velocity–azimuth display scan and a spectral accumulation technique, leading to a horizontal resolution of about 9 km along the flight track and a vertical resolution of 100 m, respectively. Both vertical and horizontal wind measurements are valuable for characterizing GW properties as demonstrated by means of a flight performed on 13 December 2013 acquired during weather conditions favorable for orographic GW excitation. Wavelet power spectra of the vertical wind speed indicate that the horizontal GW wavelengths lay mainly between 10 and 30 km and that the GW amplitude above the mountain ridge decreases with increasing altitude. Additionally, the perturbations of the horizontal wind speed are analyzed, showing horizontal wavelengths in the excitation region of 100–125 km with upwind-tilted wave fronts. By means of elevation power spectra, it is revealed that vertical wind power spectra are dominated by the short-wave elevation part, whereas horizontal wind perturbations are dominated by the long-wave part.

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Michael Hill, Ron Calhoun, H. J. S. Fernando, Andreas Wieser, Andreas Dörnbrack, Martin Weissmann, Georg Mayr, and Robert Newsom

Abstract

Dual-Doppler analysis of data from two coherent lidars during the Terrain-Induced Rotor Experiment (T-REX) allows the retrieval of flow structures, such as vortices, during mountain-wave events. The spatial and temporal resolution of this approach is sufficient to identify and track vortical motions on an elevated, cross-barrier plane in clear air. Assimilation routines or additional constraints such as two-dimensional continuity are not required. A relatively simple and quick least squares method forms the basis of the retrieval. Vortices are shown to evolve and advect in the flow field, allowing analysis of their behavior in the mountain–wave–boundary layer system. The locations, magnitudes, and evolution of the vortices can be studied through calculated fields of velocity, vorticity, streamlines, and swirl. Generally, observations suggest two classes of vortical motions: rotors and small-scale vortical structures. These two structures differ in scale and behavior. The level of coordination of the two lidars and the nature of the output (i.e., in range gates) creates inherent restrictions on the spatial and temporal resolution of retrieved fields.

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Andreas Dörnbrack, Sonja Gisinger, Michael C. Pitts, Lamont R. Poole, and Marion Maturilli

Abstract

The presented picture of the month is a superposition of spaceborne lidar observations and high-resolution temperature fields of the ECMWF Integrated Forecast System (IFS). It displays complex tropospheric and stratospheric clouds in the Arctic winter of 2015/16. Near the end of December 2015, the unusual northeastward propagation of warm and humid subtropical air masses as far north as 80°N lifted the tropopause by more than 3 km in 24 h and cooled the stratosphere on a large scale. A widespread formation of thick cirrus clouds near the tropopause and of synoptic-scale polar stratospheric clouds (PSCs) occurred as the temperature dropped below the thresholds for the existence of cloud particles. Additionally, mountain waves were excited by the strong flow at the western edge of the ridge across Svalbard, leading to the formation of mesoscale ice PSCs. The most recent IFS cycle using a horizontal resolution of 8 km globally reproduces the large-scale and mesoscale flow features and leads to a remarkable agreement with the wave structure revealed by the spaceborne observations.

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Susanne Drechsel, Georg J. Mayr, Michel Chong, Martin Weissmann, Andreas Dörnbrack, and Ronald Calhoun

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During the field campaign of the Terrain-induced Rotor Experiment (T-REX) in the spring of 2006, Doppler lidar measurements were taken in the complex terrain of the Californian Owens Valley for six weeks. While fast three-dimensional (3D) wind analysis from measured radial wind components is well established for dual weather radars, only the feasibility was shown for dual-Doppler lidars. A computationally inexpensive, variational analysis method developed for multiple-Doppler radar measurements over complex terrain was applied. The general flow pattern of the 19 derived 3D wind fields is slightly smoothed in time and space because of lidar scan duration and analysis algorithm. The comparison of extracted wind profiles to profiles from radiosondes and wind profiler reveals differences of wind speed and direction of less than 1.1 m s−1 and 3°, on average, with standard deviations not exceeding 2.7 m s−1 and 27°, respectively. Standard velocity–azimuth display (VAD) retrieval method provided higher vertical resolution than the dual-Doppler retrieval, but no horizontal structure of the flow field. The authors suggest a simple way to obtain a good first guess for a dual-lidar scan strategy geared toward 3D wind retrieval that minimizes scan duration and maximizes spatial coverage.

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Martina Bramberger, Andreas Dörnbrack, Henrike Wilms, Steffen Gemsa, Kevin Raynor, and Robert Sharman

Abstract

Stall warnings at flight level 410 (12.5 km) occurred unexpectedly during a research flight of the High Altitude and Long Range Research Aircraft (HALO) over Italy on 12 January 2016. The dangerous flight situation was mitigated by pilot intervention. At the incident location, the stratosphere was characterized by large horizontal variations in the along-track wind speed and temperature. On this particular day, strong northwesterly winds in the lower troposphere in concert with an aligned polar front jet favored the excitation and vertical propagation of large-amplitude mountain waves at and above the Apennines in Italy. These mountain waves carried large vertical energy fluxes of 8 W m−2 and propagated without significant dissipation from the troposphere into the stratosphere. While turbulence is a well-acknowledged hazard to aviation, this case study reveals that nonbreaking, vertically propagating mountain waves also pose a potential hazard, especially to high-flying aircraft. It is the wave-induced modulation of the ambient along-track wind speed that may decrease the aircraft speed toward the minimum needed stall speed.

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