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B. B. Stankov, B. E. Martner, and M. K. Politovich

Abstract

A new method for deriving profiles of tropospheric water vapor and liquid water from a combination of ground-based remote sensors was applied and tested under winter conditions in Colorado. The method is an extension of physical retrieval techniques used to derive coarse profiles from passive microwave radiometer measurements. Unlike an earlier method, it does not depend on climatological data for first-guess profile inputs. Instead, information about current cloud conditions aloft, obtained with active remote sensors, is used to determine physically realistic, first-guess vertical distributions of the radiometer's integrated vapor and liquid measurements. In preliminary tests, the retrieved profiles were compared with in situ measurements by aircraft and radiosondes during the Winter Icing and Storms Project. The shape of the retrieved liquid profiles agreed well with the aircraft measurements, but heights, thicknesses, and amplitudes differed considerably in some cases. The derived vapor profiles agreed better with radiosonde measurements than the traditional climatological retrievals, but standard deviations of the dewpoint differences wore still quite large (5°C). In an integrated, unattended instrument design, the new method has the potential to provide continuous real-lime profiles of temperature, wind, humidity, liquid water, and pressure.

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Marcia K. Politovich, B. Boba Stankov, and Brooks E. Martner

Abstract

Methods by which attitude ranges of supercooled cloud liquid water in the atmosphere may be estimated are explored using measurements from a combination of ground-based remote sensors. The tests were conducted as part of the Winter Icing and Storms Project that took place in eastern Colorado during the winters of 1990, 1991, and 1993. The basic method augments microwave radiometer measurements of path-integrated liquid water with observations from additional remote sensors to establish height limits for the supercooled liquid. One variation uses a simple adiabatic parcel lifting model initiated at a cloud-base height determined from a ecilometer, temperature and pressure from a radio acoustic sounding system or rawinsonde, and combines these with the radiometers total liquid measurement to obtain an estimate of the liquid cloud-top height. Since it does not account for liquid loss by entrainment or ice-liquid interaction processes this method tends to underestimate the true liquid cloud top; for two cases examined in detail, 54% of icing pilot reports in the area were from above this estimated height. Some error is introduced due to differences in sampling locations and from horizontal variability in liquid water content. Vertical cloud boundaries from a Ka-band radar were also used in the study; these often indicated thicker clouds than the liquid-layer depths observed from research aircraft, possibly due to the ambiguity of the ice-liquid phase distinction.

Comparisons of liquid vertical profiles are presented, using normalized profile shapes based an uniform, adiabatic, and aircraft-derived composite assumptions. The adiabatic and climatological profile shapes generally agreed well with measurements from a research aircraft and were more realistic than the uniform profile. Suggestions for applications of these results toward a red-time aviation hazard identification system are presented.

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Brooks E. Martner, Paul J. Neiman, and Allen B. White

Abstract

A strong elevated temperature inversion in a landfalling winter storm in northern California produced two simultaneous melting layers with associated radar bright bands. The storm was observed with scanning and profiling radars. Serial radiosonde launches from the scanning radar site precisely documented the evolving temperature structure of the air mass that produced the double bright band. The radiosonde and radar observations, which were coincident in location and time, clearly illustrate the cause (two melting layers) and effect (two bright bands) of this unusual phenomenon. An automated algorithm for determining the melting-layer height from profiling radar data was tested on this situation. In its operational form, the algorithm detects only the lower melting layer, but in modified form it is capable of detecting both melting layers simultaneously.

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A. S. Frisch, B. B. Stankov, B. E. Martner, and J. C. Kaimal

Abstract

This study of a 5-yr continuous record of midtropospheric horizontal wind components from a radar wind profiler operating at Fleming, Colorado, shows a broad spectral peak centered around a period of 1 week and a minimum at about 4 months, in addition to the expected 1-yr peak. However, when the records are separated according to seasons, the pattern becomes more complicated, with several distinct peaks and clear differences between the summer and winter behavior emerging. In this paper the different spectral patterns observed are presented and the synoptic-scale features in the weather that could produce them are speculated on.

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E. E. Gossard, J. B. Snider, E. E. Clothiaux, B. Martner, J. S. Gibson, R. A. Kropfli, and A. S. Frisch

Abstract

This paper describes the use of a vertically pointing 8.6-mm-wavelength Doppler radar for measuring drop size spectra in clouds. The data used were collected in the Atlantic Stratocumulus Transition Experiment in 1992. This paper uses the full Doppler velocity spectrum from the time series of Doppler radial velocities to extract information farther into the small-drop regime than previously attempted. The amount of liquid residing in the cloud regime is compared with that found in the precipitation regime where drop fall velocities are resolvable. Total liquid is compared with that measured with a collocated three-channel microwave radiometer. Examples of number density spectra, liquid water spectra, and flux spectra are shown and compared with what is known of these quantities from various in situ measurements by aircraft in similar clouds. Error estimates and uncertainties are discussed. It is concluded that 8-mm Doppler radars have the potential for broader use in cloud and precipitation studies than generally realized.

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Allen B. White, James R. Jordan, Brooks E. Martner, F. Martin Ralph, and Bruce W. Bartram

Abstract

A new S-band vertical profiler with a coupler option for extending the dynamic range of the radar’s receiver is discussed. The added dynamic range allows the profiler to record radar reflectivity measurements in moderate to heavy precipitation that otherwise would not have been possible with this system because of receiver saturation. The radar hardware, signal processor, and operating software are based on existing S-band and UHF profiler technology. Results from a side-by-side comparison with a calibrated Ka-band radar are used to determine the calibration and sensitivity of the S-band profiler. In a typical cloud profiling mode of operation, the sensitivity is −14 dBZ at 10 km. Examples taken from a recent field campaign are shown to illustrate the profiler’s ability to measure vertical velocity and radar reflectivity profiles in clouds and precipitation, with particular emphasis on the benefit provided by the coupler technology.

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Sergey Y. Matrosov, Roger F. Reinking, Robert A. Kropfli, Brooks E. Martner, and B. W. Bartram

Abstract

An approach is suggested to relate measurements of radar depolarization ratios and aspect ratios of predominant hydrometeors in nonprecipitating and weakly precipitating layers of winter clouds. The trends of elevation angle dependencies of depolarization ratios are first used to distinguish between columnar-type and plate-type particles. For the established particle type, values of depolarization ratios observed at certain elevation angles, for which the influence of particle orientation is minimal, are then used to estimate aspect ratios when information on particle effective bulk density is assumed or inferred from other measurements. The use of different polarizations, including circular, slant-45° linear, and two elliptical polarizations, is discussed. These two elliptical polarizations are quasi-circular and quasi-linear slant-45° linear, and both are currently achievable with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Environmental Technology Laboratory’s Ka-band radar. In comparison with the true circular and slant-45° linear polarizations, the discussed elliptical polarizations provide a stronger signal in the “weak” radar receiver channel; however, it is at the expense of diminished dynamic range of depolarization ratio variations. For depolarization measurements at the radar elevation angles that do not show much sensitivity to particle orientations, the available quasi-circular polarization provides a better depolarization contrast between nonspherical and spherical particles than does the available quasi-linear slant-45°polarization. The use of the proposed approach is illustrated with the experimental data collected during a recent field experiment. It is shown that it allows successful differentiation among pristine planar crystals, rimed planar crystals, long columns, blocky columns, and graupel. When a reasonable assumption about particle bulk density is made, quantitative estimates of particle aspect ratios from radar depolarization data are in good agreement with in situ observations. Uncertainties of particle aspect ratios estimated from depolarization measurements due to 0.1 g cm−3 variations in the assumed bulk density are about 0.1.

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Brooks E. Martner, Sandra E. Yuter, Allen B. White, Sergey Y. Matrosov, David E. Kingsmill, and F. Martin Ralph

Abstract

Recent studies using vertically pointing S-band profiling radars showed that coastal winter storms in California and Oregon frequently do not display a melting-layer radar bright band and inferred that these nonbrightband (NBB) periods are characterized by raindrop size spectra that differ markedly from those of brightband (BB) periods. Two coastal sites in northern California were revisited in the winter of 2003/04 in this study, which extends the earlier work by augmenting the profiling radar observations with collocated raindrop disdrometers to measure drop size distributions (DSD) at the surface. The disdrometer observations are analyzed for more than 320 h of nonconvective rainfall. The new measurements confirm the earlier inferences that NBB rainfall periods are characterized by greater concentrations of small drops and smaller concentrations of large drops than BB periods. Compared with their BB counterparts, NBB periods had mean values that were 40% smaller for mean-volume diameter, 32% smaller for rain intensity, 87% larger for total drop concentration, and 81% larger (steeper) for slope of the exponential DSDs. The differences are statistically significant. Liquid water contents differ very little, however, for the two rain types. Disdrometer-based relations between radar reflectivity (Z) and rainfall intensity (R) at the site in the Coast Range Mountains were Z = 168R 1.58 for BB periods and Z = 44R 1.91 for NBB. The much lower coefficient, which is characteristic of NBB rainfall, is poorly represented by the ZR equations most commonly applied to data from the operational network of Weather Surveillance Radar-1988 Doppler (WSR-88D) units, which underestimate rain accumulations by a factor of 2 or more when applied to nonconvective NBB situations. Based on the observed DSDs, it is also concluded that polarimetric scanning radars may have some limited ability to distinguish between regions of BB and NBB rainfall using differential reflectivity. However, differential-phase estimations of rain intensity are not useful for NBB rain, because the drops are too small and nearly spherical. On average, the profiler-measured echo tops were 3.2 km lower in NBB periods than during BB periods, and they extended only about 1 km above the 0°C altitude. The findings are consistent with the concept that precipitation processes during BB periods are dominated by ice processes in deep cloud layers associated with synoptic-scale forcing, whereas the more restrained growth of hydrometeors in NBB periods is primarily the result of orographically forced condensation and coalescence processes in much shallower clouds.

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B. E. Martner, D. B. Wuertz, B. B. Stankov, R. G. Strauch, E. R. Westwater, K. S. Gage, W. L. Ecklund, C. L. Martin, and W. F. Dabberdt

Several ground-based remote sensors were operated together in Colorado during February and March 1991 to obtain continuous profiles of the kinematic and thermodynamic structure of the atmosphere. Instrument performance is compared for five different wind profilers. Each was equipped with Radio Acoustic Sounding System (RASS) capability to measure virtual temperature. This was the first side-by-side comparison of all three of the most common wind-profiler frequencies: 50, 404, and 915 MHz. The 404-MHz system was a NOAA Wind Profiler Demonstration Network (WPDN) unit. Dual-frequency microwave radiometers that measured path-integrated water vapor and liquid water content were also evaluated. Frequent rawinsonde launches from the remote-sensor sites provided an extensive set of in situ measurements for comparison. The winter operations provide a severe test of the profiler/RASS capabilities because atmospheric scattering is relatively weak and acoustic attenuation is relatively strong in cold, dry conditions. Nevertheless, the lower-frequency systems exhibited impressive height coverage for wind and virtual temperature profiling, whereas the high-frequency units provided higher-resolution measurements near the surface. Comparisons between remote sensor and rawinsonde data generally showed excellent agreement. The results support more widespread use of these emerging technologies.

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Paul J. Neiman, Gary A. Wick, F. Martin Ralph, Brooks E. Martner, Allen B. White, and David E. Kingsmill

Abstract

An objective algorithm presented in White et al. was applied to vertically pointing S-band (S-PROF) radar data recorded at four sites in northern California and western Oregon during four winters to assess the geographic, interannual, and synoptic variability of stratiform nonbrightband (NBB) rain in landfalling winter storms. NBB rain typically fell in a shallow layer residing beneath the melting level (<∼3.5 km MSL), whereas rainfall possessing a brightband (BB) was usually associated with deeper echoes (>∼6 km MSL). The shallow NBB echo tops often resided beneath the coverage of the operational Weather Surveillance Radar-1988 Doppler (WSR-88D) scanning radars yet were still capable of producing flooding rains.

NBB rain contributed significantly to the total winter-season rainfall at each of the four geographically distinct sites (i.e., 18%–35% of the winter-season rain totals). In addition, the rainfall observed at the coastal mountain site near Cazadero, California (CZD), during each of four winters was composed of a significant percentage of NBB rain (18%–50%); substantial NBB rainfall occurred regardless of the phase of the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (which ranged from strong El Niño to moderate La Niña conditions). Clearly, NBB rain occurs more widely and commonly in California and Oregon than can be inferred from the single-winter, single-site study of White et al.

Composite NCEP–NCAR reanalysis maps and Geostationary Operational Environment Satellite (GOES) cloud-top temperature data were examined to evaluate the synoptic conditions that characterize periods of NBB precipitation observed at CZD and how they differ from periods with bright bands. The composites indicate that both rain types were tied generally to landfalling polar-cold-frontal systems. However, synoptic conditions favoring BB rain exhibited notable distinctions from those characterizing NBB periods. This included key differences in the position of the composite 300-mb jet stream and underlying cold front with respect to CZD, as well as notable differences in the intensity of the 500-mb shortwave trough offshore of CZD. The suite of BB composites exhibited dynamically consistent synoptic-scale characteristics that yielded stronger and deeper ascent over CZD than for the typically shallower NBB rain, consistent with the GOES satellite composites that showed 20-K warmer (2.3-km shallower) cloud tops for NBB rain. Composite soundings for both rain types possessed low-level potential instability, but the NBB sounding was warmer and moister with stronger low-level upslope flow, thus implying that orographically forced rainfall is enhanced during NBB conditions.

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