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Ali Tokay, Annakaisa von Lerber, Claire Pettersen, Mark S. Kulie, Dmitri N. Moisseev, and David B. Wolff

Abstract

Performance of the Precipitation Imaging Package (PIP) for estimating the snow water equivalent (SWE) is evaluated through a comparative study with the collocated National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Weather Service snow stake field measurements. The PIP together with a vertically pointing radar, a weighing bucket gauge, and a laser-optical disdrometer was deployed at the NWS Marquette, Michigan office building for a long-term field study supported by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Global Precipitation Measurement mission Ground Validation program. The site was also equipped with a weather station. During the 2017-18 winter, the PIP functioned nearly uninterrupted at frigid temperatures accumulating 2345.8 mm of geometric snow depth over a total of 499 hours. This long record consists of 30 events, and the PIP-retrieved and snow stake field measured SWE differed less than 15% in every event. Two of the major events with the longest duration and the highest accumulation are examined in detail. The particle mass with a given diameter was much lower during a shallow, colder, uniform lake-effect event than in the deep, less cold, and variable synoptic event. This study demonstrated that the PIP is a robust instrument for operational use, and is reliable for deriving the bulk properties of falling snow.

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Julia A. Shates, Claire Pettersen, Tristan S. L’Ecuyer, Steven J. Cooper, Mark S. Kulie, and Norman B. Wood

Abstract

The prevailing snowfall regimes at two Scandinavian sites, Haukeliseter, Norway, and Kiruna, Sweden, are documented using ground-based in situ and remote sensing methods. Micro Rain Radar (MRR) profiles indicate three distinct snowfall regimes occur at both sites: shallow, deep, and intermittent snowfall. The shallow snowfall regime produces the lowest mean snowfall rates and radar echo tops are confined below 1.5 km above ground level (AGL). Shallow snowfall occurs under areas of large-scale subsidence with a moist boundary layer and dry air aloft. The atmospheric ridge coinciding with shallow snowfall is highly anomalous over Haukeliseter but is more common in Kiruna where shallow snowfall was frequently observed. The shallow snowfall particle size distributions (PSDs) are broad with lower particle concentrations than other regimes, especially small particles. Deep snowfall events exhibit MRR profiles that extend above 2 km AGL and tend to be associated with weak low pressure and high relative humidity throughout the troposphere. The PSDs in deep events are narrower with high concentrations of small particles. Increasing MRR reflectivity toward the surface suggests aggregation as a possible growth process during deep snowfall events. The heaviest mean snowfall rates are associated with intermittent events that are characterized by deep MRR profiles but have variations in intensity and height. The intermittent regime is associated with anomalous, deep low pressure along the coast of Norway and enhanced relative humidity at lower levels. The PSDs reveal high concentrations of small and large particles. The analysis reveals that there are unique characteristics of shallow, deep, and intermittent snowfall regimes that are common between the sites.

Restricted access
Claire E. Schirle, Steven J. Cooper, Mareile Astrid Wolff, Claire Pettersen, Norman B. Wood, Tristan S. L’Ecuyer, Trond Ilmo, and Knut Nygård

Abstract

The ability of in situ snowflake microphysical observations to constrain estimates of surface snowfall accumulations derived from coincident, ground-based radar observations is explored. As part of the High-Latitude Measurement of Snowfall (HiLaMS) field campaign, a Micro Rain Radar (MRR), Precipitation Imaging Package (PIP), and Multi-Angle Snow Camera (MASC) were deployed to the Haukeliseter Test Site run by the Norwegian Meteorological Institute during winter 2016/17. This measurement site lies near an elevation of 1000 m in the mountains of southern Norway and houses a double-fence automated reference (DFAR) snow gauge and a comprehensive set of meteorological observations. MASC and PIP observations provided estimates of particle size distribution (PSD), fall speed, and habit. These properties were used as input for a snowfall retrieval algorithm using coincident MRR reflectivity measurements. Retrieved surface snowfall accumulations were evaluated against DFAR observations to quantify retrieval performance as a function of meteorological conditions for the Haukeliseter site. These analyses found differences of less than 10% between DFAR- and MRR-retrieved estimates over the field season when using either PIP or MASC observations for low wind “upslope” events. Larger biases of at least 50% were found for high wind “pulsed” events likely because of sampling limitations in the in situ observations used to constrain the retrieval. However, assumptions of MRR Doppler velocity for mean particle fall speed and a temperature-based PSD parameterization reduced this difference to +16% for the pulsed events. Although promising, these results ultimately depend upon selection of a snowflake particle model that is well matched to scene environmental conditions.

Full access
Claire Pettersen, Mark S. Kulie, Larry F. Bliven, Aronne J. Merrelli, Walter A. Petersen, Timothy J. Wagner, David B. Wolff, and Norman B. Wood

Abstract

Presented are four winter seasons of data from an enhanced precipitation instrument suite based at the National Weather Service (NWS) Office in Marquette (MQT), Michigan (250–500 cm of annual snow accumulation). In 2014 the site was augmented with a Micro Rain Radar (MRR) and a Precipitation Imaging Package (PIP). MRR observations are utilized to partition large-scale synoptically driven (deep) and surface-forced (shallow) snow events. Coincident PIP and NWS MQT meteorological surface observations illustrate different characteristics with respect to snow event category. Shallow snow events are often extremely shallow, with MRR-indicated precipitation heights of less than 1500 m above ground level. Large vertical reflectivity gradients indicate efficient particle growth, and increased boundary layer turbulence inferred from observations of spectral width implies increased aggregation in shallow snow events. Shallow snow events occur 2 times as often as deep events; however, both categories contribute approximately equally to estimated annual accumulation. PIP measurements reveal distinct regime-dependent snow microphysical differences, with shallow snow events having broader particle size distributions and comparatively fewer small particles and deep snow events having narrower particle size distributions and comparatively more small particles. In addition, coincident surface meteorological measurements indicate that most shallow snow events are associated with surface winds originating from the northwest (over Lake Superior), cold temperatures, and relatively high surface pressures, which are characteristics that are consistent with cold-air outbreaks. Deep snow events have meteorologically distinct conditions that are accordant with midlatitude cyclones and frontal structures, with mostly southwest surface winds, warmer temperatures approaching freezing, and lower surface pressures.

Open access
Kyle S. Mattingly, Thomas L. Mote, Xavier Fettweis, Dirk van As, Kristof Van Tricht, Stef Lhermitte, Claire Pettersen, and Robert S. Fausto

ABSTRACT

Mass loss from the Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS) has accelerated over the past two decades, coincident with rapid Arctic warming and increasing moisture transport over Greenland by atmospheric rivers (ARs). Summer ARs affecting western Greenland trigger GrIS melt events, but the physical mechanisms through which ARs induce melt are not well understood. This study elucidates the coupled surface–atmosphere processes by which ARs force GrIS melt through analysis of the surface energy balance (SEB), cloud properties, and local- to synoptic-scale atmospheric conditions during strong summer AR events affecting western Greenland. ARs are identified in MERRA-2 reanalysis (1980–2017) and classified by integrated water vapor transport (IVT) intensity. SEB, cloud, and atmospheric data from regional climate model, observational, reanalysis, and satellite-based datasets are used to analyze melt-inducing physical processes during strong, >90th percentile “AR90+” events. Near AR “landfall,” AR90+ days feature increased cloud cover that reduces net shortwave radiation and increases net longwave radiation. As these oppositely signed radiative anomalies partly cancel during AR90+ events, increased melt energy in the ablation zone is primarily provided by turbulent heat fluxes, particularly sensible heat flux. These turbulent heat fluxes are driven by enhanced barrier winds generated by a stronger synoptic pressure gradient combined with an enhanced local temperature contrast between cool over-ice air and the anomalously warm surrounding atmosphere. During AR90+ events in northwest Greenland, anomalous melt is forced remotely through a clear-sky foehn regime produced by downslope flow in eastern Greenland.

Free access
Mark S. Kulie, Claire Pettersen, Aronne J. Merrelli, Timothy J. Wagner, Norman B. Wood, Michael Dutter, David Beachler, Todd Kluber, Robin Turner, Marian Mateling, John Lenters, Peter Blanken, Maximilian Maahn, Christopher Spence, Stefan Kneifel, Paul A. Kucera, Ali Tokay, Larry F. Bliven, David B. Wolff, and Walter A. Petersen

Abstract

A multisensor snowfall observational suite has been deployed at the Marquette, Michigan, National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office (KMQT) since 2014. Micro Rain Radar (MRR; profiling radar), Precipitation Imaging Package (PIP; snow particle imager), and ancillary ground-based meteorological observations illustrate the unique capabilities of these combined instruments to document radar and concomitant microphysical properties associated with northern Great Lakes snowfall regimes. Lake-effect, lake-orographic, and transition event case studies are presented that illustrate the variety of snowfall events that occur at KMQT. Case studies and multiyear analyses reveal the ubiquity of snowfall produced by shallow events. These shallow snowfall features and their distinctive microphysical fingerprints are often difficult to discern with conventional remote sensing instruments, thus highlighting the scientific and potential operational value of MRR and PIP observations. The importance of near-surface lake-orographic snowfall enhancement processes in extreme snowfall events and regime-dependent snow particle microphysical variability controlled by regime and environmental factors are also highlighted.

Full access
Brian J. Butterworth, Ankur R. Desai, Stefan Metzger, Philip A. Townsend, Mark D. Schwartz, Grant W. Petty, Matthias Mauder, Hannes Vogelmann, Christian G. Andresen, Travis J. Augustine, Timothy H. Bertram, William O. J. Brown, Michael Buban, Patricia Cleary, David J. Durden, Christopher R. Florian, Trevor J. Iglinski, Eric L. Kruger, Kathleen Lantz, Temple R. Lee, Tilden P. Meyers, James K. Mineau, Erik R. Olson, Steven P. Oncley, Sreenath Paleri, Rosalyn A. Pertzborn, Claire Pettersen, David M. Plummer, Laura D. Riihimaki, Eliceo Ruiz Guzman, Joseph Sedlar, Elizabeth N. Smith, Johannes Speidel, Paul C. Stoy, Matthias Sühring, Jonathan E. Thom, David D. Turner, Michael P. Vermeuel, Timothy J. Wagner, Zhien Wang, Luise Wanner, Loren D. White, James M. Wilczak, Daniel B. Wright, and Ting Zheng

Abstract

The Chequamegon Heterogeneous Ecosystem Energy-Balance Study Enabled by a High-Density Extensive Array of Detectors 2019 (CHEESEHEAD19) is an ongoing National Science Foundation project based on an intensive field campaign that occurred from June to October 2019. The purpose of the study is to examine how the atmospheric boundary layer (ABL) responds to spatial heterogeneity in surface energy fluxes. One of the main objectives is to test whether lack of energy balance closure measured by eddy covariance (EC) towers is related to mesoscale atmospheric processes. Finally, the project evaluates data-driven methods for scaling surface energy fluxes, with the aim to improve model–data comparison and integration. To address these questions, an extensive suite of ground, tower, profiling, and airborne instrumentation was deployed over a 10 km × 10 km domain of a heterogeneous forest ecosystem in the Chequamegon–Nicolet National Forest in northern Wisconsin, United States, centered on an existing 447-m tower that anchors an AmeriFlux/NOAA supersite (US-PFa/WLEF). The project deployed one of the world’s highest-density networks of above-canopy EC measurements of surface energy fluxes. This tower EC network was coupled with spatial measurements of EC fluxes from aircraft; maps of leaf and canopy properties derived from airborne spectroscopy, ground-based measurements of plant productivity, phenology, and physiology; and atmospheric profiles of wind, water vapor, and temperature using radar, sodar, lidar, microwave radiometers, infrared interferometers, and radiosondes. These observations are being used with large-eddy simulation and scaling experiments to better understand submesoscale processes and improve formulations of subgrid-scale processes in numerical weather and climate models.

Open access