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G. M. Heymsfield, B. Geerts, and L. Tian

Abstract

Orbital Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) precipitation radar (PR) products are evaluated by simultaneous comparisons with high-resolution data from the high-altitude ER-2 Doppler radar (EDOP) and ground-based radars. The purpose is not to calibrate any radar or to validate surface rainfall estimates, but rather to evaluate the vertical reflectivity structure, which is important in TRMM rain-type classification and estimation of latent heating profiles. The radars used in this study have considerably different viewing geometries and resolutions, demanding nontrivial mapping procedures in common earth-relative coordinates. Mapped vertical cross sections and mean profiles of reflectivity from the PR, EDOP, and ground-based radars are compared for six cases. These cases cover a stratiform frontal rainband, convective cells of various sizes and stages, and a hurricane.

For precipitating systems larger than the PR footprint size, PR reflectivity profiles compare very well with high-resolution measurements thresholded to the PR minimum reflectivity, and derived variables such as brightband height and rain types are accurate, even at off-nadir PR scan angles. Convective rainfall is marked by high-horizontal reflectivity gradients; therefore its reflectivity distribution is spread out because of the PR antenna illumination pattern and by nonuniform beamfilling effects. In these cases, rain-type classification may err and be biased toward the stratiform type, and the average reflectivity tends to be underestimated. The limited sensitivity of the PR implies that large portions of the upper regions of precipitation systems remain undetected. This implication applies to all cases, but the discrepancy is larger for smaller cells for which limited sensitivity is compounded by incomplete beamfilling. These findings have important implications for gridded TRMM products such as monthly mean rainfall.

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S. A. Tessendorf, B. Boe, B. Geerts, M. J. Manton, S. Parkinson, and R. Rasmussen
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Christopher C. Weiss, Howard B. Bluestein, Andrew L. Pazmany, and Bart Geerts

Abstract

A case study of a double dryline on 22 May 2002 is presented. Mobile, 3-mm-wavelength Doppler radars from the University of Massachusetts and the University of Wyoming (Wyoming cloud radar) were used to collect very fine resolution vertical-velocity data in the vicinity of each of the moisture gradients associated with the drylines. Very narrow (50–100 m wide) channels of strong upward vertical velocity (up to 8 m s–1) were measured in the convergence zone of the easternmost dryline, larger in magnitude than reported with previous drylines. Distinct areas of descending motion were evident to the east and west of both drylines. Radar data are interpreted in the context of other observational platforms available during the International H2O Project (IHOP-2002). a variational ground-based mobile radar data processing technique was developed and applied to pseudo-dual-Doppler data collected during a rolling range-height indicator deployment. It was found that there was a secondary (vertical) circulation normal to the easternmost moisture gradient; the circulation comprised an easterly component near-surface flow to the east, a strong upward vertical component in the convergence zone, a westerly return, flow above the convective boundary layer, and numerous regions of descending motion, the most prominent approximately 3–5 km to the east of the surface convergence zone.

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Bart Geerts, Gerald M. Heymsfield, Lin Tian, Jeffrey B. Halverson, Anthony Guillory, and Mercedes I. Mejia

Current understanding of landfalling tropical cyclones is limited, especially with regard to convective-scale processes. On 22 September 1998 Hurricane Georges made landfall on the island of Hispaniola, leaving behind a trail of death and devastation, largely the result of excessive rainfall, not storm surge or wind. Detailed airborne measurements were taken as part of the Third Convection and Moisture Experiment. Of particular interest are the ER-2 nadir X-band Doppler radar data, which provide a first-time, high-resolution view of the precipitation and airflow changes as a hurricane interacts with mountainous terrain.

The circulation of Hurricane Georges obviously declined during landfall, evident in the rapid increase in minimum sea level pressure, the subsidence of the eyewall anvil, and the decrease in average ice concentrations in the eyewall. The eye, as seen in satellite imagery, disappeared as deep convection erupted within the eye. The main convective event within the eye, with upper-level updraft magnitudes over 20 m s−1 and microwave brightness temperatures below 100 K at 89 GHz (implying large ice concentrations), occurred when the eye moved over the Cordillera Central, the island's main mountain chain. The location, intensity and evolution of this convection indicate that it was coupled to the surface orography. The authors speculate that orographic lifting released potential energy, which had been trapped beneath the eye's subsidence inversion.

It is likely that surface rain rates increased during landfall, both in the convective and in the more widespread stratiform rainfall areas over the island. Evidence for this is the increase in radar reflectivity below the bright band down to ground level. Such increase was absent offshore. This low-level rain enhancement must be due to the ascent of boundary layer air over the topography.

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Tammy M. Weckwerth, David B. Parsons, Steven E. Koch, James A. Moore, Margaret A. LeMone, Belay B. Demoz, Cyrille Flamant, Bart Geerts, Junhong Wang, and Wayne F. Feltz

The International H2O Project (IHOP_2002) is one of the largest North American meteorological field experiments in history. From 13 May to 25 June 2002, over 250 researchers and technical staff from the United States, Germany, France, and Canada converged on the Southern Great Plains to measure water vapor and other atmospheric variables. The principal objective of IHOP_2002 is to obtain an improved characterization of the time-varying three-dimensional water vapor field and evaluate its utility in improving the understanding and prediction of convective processes. The motivation for this objective is the combination of extremely low forecast skill for warm-season rainfall and the relatively large loss of life and property from flash floods and other warm-season weather hazards. Many prior studies on convective storm forecasting have shown that water vapor is a key atmospheric variable that is insufficiently measured. Toward this goal, IHOP_2002 brought together many of the existing operational and new state-of-the-art research water vapor sensors and numerical models.

The IHOP_2002 experiment comprised numerous unique aspects. These included several instruments fielded for the first time (e.g., reference radiosonde); numerous upgraded instruments (e.g., Wyoming Cloud Radar); the first ever horizontal-pointing water vapor differential absorption lidar (DIAL; i.e., Leandre II on the Naval Research Laboratory P-3), which required the first onboard aircraft avoidance radar; several unique combinations of sensors (e.g., multiple profiling instruments at one field site and the German water vapor DIAL and NOAA/Environmental Technology Laboratory Doppler lidar on board the German Falcon aircraft); and many logistical challenges. This article presents a summary of the motivation, goals, and experimental design of the project, illustrates some preliminary data collected, and includes discussion on some potential operational and research implications of the experiment.

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R. Damiani, J. Zehnder, B. Geerts, J. Demko, S. Haimov, J. Petti, G. S. Poulos, A. Razdan, J. Hu, M. Leuthold, and J. French

The finescale structure and dynamics of cumulus, evolving from shallow to deep convection, and the accompanying changes in the environment and boundary layer over mountainous terrain were the subjects of a field campaign in July–August 2006. Few measurements exist of the transport of boundary layer air into the deep troposphere by the orographic toroidal circulation and orographic convection. The campaign was conducted over the Santa Catalina Mountains in southern Arizona, a natural laboratory to study convection, given the spatially and temporally regular development of cumulus driven by elevated heating and convergent boundary layer flow. Cumuli and their environment were sampled via coordinated observations from the surface, radiosonde balloons, and aircraft, along with airborne radar data and stereophotogrammetry from two angles.

The collected dataset is expected to yield new insights in the boundary layer processes leading to orographic convection, in the cumulus-induced transport of boundary layer air into the troposphere, and in fundamental cumulus dynamics. This article summarizes the motivations, objectives, experimental strategies, preliminary findings, and the potential research paths stirred by the project.

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Kevin R. Haghi, Bart Geerts, Hristo G. Chipilski, Aaron Johnson, Samuel Degelia, David Imy, David B. Parsons, Rebecca D. Adams-Selin, David D. Turner, and Xuguang Wang

Abstract

There has been a recent wave of attention given to atmospheric bores in order to understand how they evolve and initiate and maintain convection during the night. This surge is attributable to data collected during the 2015 Plains Elevated Convection at Night (PECAN) field campaign. A salient aspect of the PECAN project is its focus on using multiple observational platforms to better understand convective outflow boundaries that intrude into the stable boundary layer and induce the development of atmospheric bores. The intent of this article is threefold: 1) to educate the reader on current and future foci of bore research, 2) to present how PECAN observations will facilitate aforementioned research, and 3) to stimulate multidisciplinary collaborative efforts across other closely related fields in an effort to push the limitations of prediction of nocturnal convection.

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Bart Geerts, David Parsons, Conrad L. Ziegler, Tammy M. Weckwerth, Michael I. Biggerstaff, Richard D. Clark, Michael C. Coniglio, Belay B. Demoz, Richard A. Ferrare, William A. Gallus Jr., Kevin Haghi, John M. Hanesiak, Petra M. Klein, Kevin R. Knupp, Karen Kosiba, Greg M. McFarquhar, James A. Moore, Amin R. Nehrir, Matthew D. Parker, James O. Pinto, Robert M. Rauber, Russ S. Schumacher, David D. Turner, Qing Wang, Xuguang Wang, Zhien Wang, and Joshua Wurman

Abstract

The central Great Plains region in North America has a nocturnal maximum in warm-season precipitation. Much of this precipitation comes from organized mesoscale convective systems (MCSs). This nocturnal maximum is counterintuitive in the sense that convective activity over the Great Plains is out of phase with the local generation of CAPE by solar heating of the surface. The lower troposphere in this nocturnal environment is typically characterized by a low-level jet (LLJ) just above a stable boundary layer (SBL), and convective available potential energy (CAPE) values that peak above the SBL, resulting in convection that may be elevated, with source air decoupled from the surface. Nocturnal MCS-induced cold pools often trigger undular bores and solitary waves within the SBL. A full understanding of the nocturnal precipitation maximum remains elusive, although it appears that bore-induced lifting and the LLJ may be instrumental to convection initiation and the maintenance of MCSs at night.

To gain insight into nocturnal MCSs, their essential ingredients, and paths toward improving the relatively poor predictive skill of nocturnal convection in weather and climate models, a large, multiagency field campaign called Plains Elevated Convection At Night (PECAN) was conducted in 2015. PECAN employed three research aircraft, an unprecedented coordinated array of nine mobile scanning radars, a fixed S-band radar, a unique mesoscale network of lower-tropospheric profiling systems called the PECAN Integrated Sounding Array (PISA), and numerous mobile-mesonet surface weather stations. The rich PECAN dataset is expected to improve our understanding and prediction of continental nocturnal warm-season precipitation. This article provides a summary of the PECAN field experiment and preliminary findings.

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Robert M. Rauber, Bjorn Stevens, Harry T. Ochs III, Charles Knight, B. A. Albrecht, A. M. Blyth, C. W. Fairall, J. B. Jensen, S. G. Lasher-Trapp, O. L. Mayol-Bracero, G. Vali, J. R. Anderson, B. A. Baker, A. R. Bandy, E. Burnet, J.-L. Brenguier, W. A. Brewer, P. R. A. Brown, R Chuang, W. R. Cotton, L. Di Girolamo, B. Geerts, H. Gerber, S. Göke, L. Gomes, B. G. Heikes, J. G. Hudson, P. Kollias, R. R Lawson, S. K. Krueger, D. H. Lenschow, L. Nuijens, D. W. O'Sullivan, R. A. Rilling, D. C. Rogers, A. P. Siebesma, E. Snodgrass, J. L. Stith, D. C. Thornton, S. Tucker, C. H. Twohy, and P. Zuidema

Shallow, maritime cumuli are ubiquitous over much of the tropical oceans, and characterizing their properties is important to understanding weather and climate. The Rain in Cumulus over the Ocean (RICO) field campaign, which took place during November 2004–January 2005 in the trades over the western Atlantic, emphasized measurements of processes related to the formation of rain in shallow cumuli, and how rain subsequently modifies the structure and ensemble statistics of trade wind clouds. Eight weeks of nearly continuous S-band polarimetric radar sampling, 57 flights from three heavily instrumented research aircraft, and a suite of ground- and ship-based instrumentation provided data on trade wind clouds with unprecedented resolution. Observational strategies employed during RICO capitalized on the advances in remote sensing and other instrumentation to provide insight into processes that span a range of scales and that lie at the heart of questions relating to the cause and effects of rain from shallow maritime cumuli.

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Robert M. Rauber, Harry T. Ochs III, L. Di Girolamo, S. Göke, E. Snodgrass, Bjorn Stevens, Charles Knight, J. B. Jensen, D. H. Lenschow, R. A. Rilling, D. C. Rogers, J. L. Stith, B. A. Albrecht, P. Zuidema, A. M. Blyth, C. W. Fairall, W. A. Brewer, S. Tucker, S. G. Lasher-Trapp, O. L. Mayol-Bracero, G. Vali, B. Geerts, J. R. Anderson, B. A. Baker, R. P. Lawson, A. R. Bandy, D. C. Thornton, E. Burnet, J-L. Brenguier, L. Gomes, P. R. A. Brown, P. Chuang, W. R. Cotton, H. Gerber, B. G. Heikes, J. G. Hudson, P. Kollias, S. K. Krueger, L. Nuijens, D. W. O'Sullivan, A. P. Siebesma, and C. H. Twohy
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