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Katja Friedrich, David E. Kingsmill, Cyrille Flamant, Hanne V. Murphey, and Roger M. Wakimoto

Abstract

Kinematic and thermodynamic structures of a nonprecipitating cold front observed in west-central Kansas on 10 June 2002 during the International H2O Project (IHOP) are examined with dropsondes and airborne instrumentation that includes Doppler radars, a differential absorption lidar, and in situ sensors. Intensive observations were collected along a 125-km segment of the front, with coverage of both the cold front leading edge and the post- and prefrontal areas. Whereas the first part of this two-part series of papers focused on across-front kinematic and moisture characteristics, the study herein investigates alongfront structures relevant for convection initiation. A northeast–southwest-oriented cold front moved into the observational domain from the northwest, but its motion slowed to less than 1 m s−1 in the early afternoon. In the late afternoon it was intersected by a north-northeast–south-southwest-oriented reflectivity thin line that was advected from the southwest, and another boundary that is an extension of a large-scale dryline paralleling the thin line but located farther to the east. Doppler wind synthesis suggests an increase in low-level horizontal wind shear across the cold front leading edge with the approach and intersection of the boundaries causing an increase in low-level convergence (up to ∼1 × 10−3 s−1), positive vertical vorticity (up to ∼0.5 × 10−3 s−1), and upward motion (up to ∼1 m s−1). An organized pattern of misocyclones (vertical vorticity maxima <4 km) and enhanced updrafts with a spacing of ∼5–8 km were observed at the cold front leading edge. At the same time vortex lines manifested as horizontal vorticity maxima were observed within the cold air oriented perpendicular to the cold front leading edge and on top of the vertical wind shear layer. The analysis suggests that inflection point instability was the dominant mechanism for their development. Low Richardson number (0.3–0.4), short lifetime (<2 h), horizontal wavelength of 3–6 km, and collocation with strong horizontal and vertical wind shear are characteristics that support the hypothesis that these instabilities were Kelvin–Helmholtz waves. Towering cumulus developed along the cold front forming a convective cell close to the intersection of the cold front, dryline, and reflectivity thin line.

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Huaqing Cai, Wen-Chau Lee, Tammy M. Weckwerth, Cyrille Flamant, and Hanne V. Murphey

Abstract

The detailed analysis of the three-dimensional structure of a dryline observed over the Oklahoma panhandle during the International H2O Project (IHOP_2002) on 11 June 2002 is presented. High-resolution observations obtained from the National Center for Atmospheric Research Electra Doppler Radar (ELDORA), S-band dual-polarization Doppler radar (S-Pol), water vapor differential absorption lidar (DIAL) Lidar pour l'Etude des Interactions Aérosols Nuages Dynamique Rayonnement et du Cycle de l'Eau (LEANDRE II; translated as Lidar for the Study of Aerosol–Cloud–Dynamics–Radiation Interactions and of the Water Cycle) as well as Learjet dropsondes are used to reveal the evolution of the dryline structure during late afternoon hours when the dryline was retreating to the northwest. The dryline reflectivity shows significant variability in the along-line direction. Dry air was observed to overrun the moist air in vertical cross sections similar to a density current. The updrafts associated with the dryline were 2–3 m s−1 and were able to initiate boundary-layer-based clouds along the dryline. The formation of this dryline was caused by high equivalent potential temperature air pushing northwestward toward a stationary front in the warm sector.

Middle-level clouds with radar reflectivity greater than 18 dBZ e near the dryline were detected by ELDORA. A roll boundary, which was associated with larger convergence and moisture content, was evident in the S-Pol data. It is found that the instability parameters most favorable for convection initiation were actually associated with the roll boundary, not the dryline. A storm was initiated near the roll boundary probably as a result of the combination of the favorable instability parameters and stronger upward forcing. It is noted that both the 11 June 2002 dryline and the roll boundary presented in this paper would not be identified if the special datasets from IHOP_2002 were not available.

Although all model runs [fifth-generation Pennsylvania State University–NCAR Mesoscale Model (MM5), Meso Eta, and Rapid Update Cycle (RUC)] suggested deep convection over the Oklahoma panhandle and several cloud lines were observed near the dryline, the dryline itself did not initiate any storms. The reasons why the dryline failed to produce any storm inside the IHOP_2002 intensive observation region are discussed. Both synoptic-scale and mesoscale conditions that were detrimental to convection initiation in this case are investigated in great detail.

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Katja Friedrich, David E. Kingsmill, Cyrille Flamant, Hanne V. Murphey, and Roger M. Wakimoto

Abstract

A wide array of ground-based and airborne instrumentation is used to examine the kinematic and moisture characteristics of a nonprecipitating cold front observed in west-central Kansas on 10 June 2002 during the International H2O Project (IHOP). This study, the first of two parts, is focused on describing structures in the across-front dimension. Coarsely resolved observations from the operational network and dropsondes deployed over a 200-km distance centered on the front are combined with higher-resolution observations from in situ sensors, Doppler radars, a microwave radiometer, and a differential absorption lidar that were collected across a ∼40-km swath that straddled a ∼100-km segment of the front.

The northeast–southwest-oriented cold front moved toward the southeast at ∼8–10 m s−1 during the morning hours, but its motion slowed to less than 1 m s−1 in the afternoon. In the early afternoon, the cold front separated cool air with a northerly component flow of 2–4 m s−1 from a 10-km-wide band of hot, dry air with 5 m s−1 winds out of the south-southwest. The average updraft at the frontal interface was ∼0.5 m s−1 and slightly tilted back toward the cool air. A dryline was located to the southeast of the front, separating the hot, dry air mass from a warm, moist air mass composed of 10 m s−1 southerly winds. Later in the afternoon, the warm, moister air moved farther to the northwest, approaching the cold front. The dryline was still well observed in the southwestern part of the observational domain while it vanished almost completely in the northeastern part. Low-level convergence (∼1 × 10−3 s−1), vertical vorticity (∼0.5 × 10−3 s−1), and vertical velocity (∼1 m s−1) increased. The strong stable layer located at ∼2.0–2.5 km MSL weakened in the course of the afternoon, providing a basis for the development of isolated thunderstorms. The applicability of gravity current theory to the cold front was studied. There was evidence of certain gravity current characteristics, such as Froude numbers between 0.7 and 1.4, a pronounced feeder flow toward the leading edge, and a rotor circulation. Other characteristics, such as a sharp change in pressure and lobe and cleft structures, remain uncertain due to the temporally and spatially variable nature of the phenomenon and the coarse resolution of the measurements.

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Tammy M. Weckwerth, Hanne V. Murphey, Cyrille Flamant, Janine Goldstein, and Crystalyne R. Pettet

Abstract

The International H2O Project (IHOP_2002) was designed to sample the three-dimensional time-varying moisture field to better understand convective processes. Numerous research and operational water vapor measuring systems and retrievals, via in situ and remote sensing techniques, were operated in the U.S. Southern Great Plains from 13 May to 25 June 2002. This was done in combination with more traditional observations of wind and temperature. Convection initiation (CI) sampling strategies were designed to optimally employ the array of ground-based and airborne sensors to observe the processes leading to the development of deep, moist convection. This case study examines several clear-air features and their impact on CI on 12 June 2002. The supercells that developed produced damaging winds and hail. The clear-air, preconvective features included (i) a mesoscale low pressure region, (ii) a dryline, (iii) an old outflow boundary, (iv) the intersection of (ii) and (iii), (v) internal gravity waves, and (vi) horizontal convective rolls.

A unique combination of instruments was positioned to sample the preconvective environment on 12 June 2002. The Lidar pour l’Etude des Interactions Aérosols Nuages Dynamique Rayonnement et du Cycle de l’Eau (LEANDRE II) water vapor differential absorption lidar (DIAL), the airborne Electra Doppler Radar (ELDORA), and the Navy Research Laboratory (NRL) P3 aircraft in situ measurements provided information on the moisture and vertical velocity distribution within the boundary layer. Radiosondes, dropsondes, wind profilers, and an Atmospheric Emitted Radiance Interferometer (AERI) provided temperature, moisture, and wind profiling information. Although other ground-based sensors (i.e., S-band dual-polarization Doppler radar, Mobile Integrated Profiling System) were 50–150 km west of the CI area, they were useful for illustrating the boundary layer kinematics and reflectivity fields.

Results suggest that the mesolow and mesoscale boundaries, respectively, acted to enhance the low-level moisture advection and convergence in the CI region. While internal gravity waves were present and appeared to modulate water vapor along the old outflow boundary, they did not play an obvious role in CI in this case. Horizontal convective rolls were observed beneath the new storms that initiated and may have helped to focus the CI in this case.

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Amato T. Evan, Cyrille Flamant, Christophe Lavaysse, Cécile Kocha, and Azzedine Saci

Abstract

The Sahel region of West Africa experiences decadal swings between periods of drought and abundant rainfall, and a large body of work asserts that these variations in the West African monsoon are a response to changes in the temperatures of the tropical Atlantic and Indian Oceans. However, here it is shown that when forced by SST alone, most state-of-the-art climate models do not reproduce a statistically significant upward trend in Sahelian precipitation over the last 30 years and that those models with a significant upward trend in rainfall seem to achieve this result for disparate reasons. Here the role of the Saharan heat low (SHL) in the recovery from the Sahelian drought of the 1980s is examined. Using observations and reanalyses, it is demonstrated that there has been an upward trend in SHL temperature that is coincident with the drought recovery. A heat and moisture budget analysis of the SHL suggests that the rise in temperature is due to greenhouse warming by water vapor, but that changes in water vapor are strongly dependent upon the temperature of the SHL: a process termed the Saharan water vapor–temperature (SWAT) feedback. It is shown that the structure of the drought recovery is consistent with a warming SHL and is evidence of a fundamental, but not exclusive, role for the SHL in the recent increase in Sahelian monsoon rainfall.

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Cyrille N. Flamant, Geary K. Schwemmer, C. Laurence Korb, Keith D. Evans, and Stephen P. Palm

Abstract

Systematic error sources that require correction when making remote airborne measurements of the atmospheric pressure field in the lower troposphere, using an oxygen differential absorption lidar, are analyzed. A detailed analysis of this measurement technique is provided, which includes corrections for imprecise knowledge of the detector background level, the oxygen absorption line parameters, and variations in the laser output energy. In addition, the authors analyze other possible sources of systematic errors, including spectral effects related to aerosol and molecular scattering, water vapor vertical distribution, interference by rotational Raman scattering, and interference by isotopic oxygen lines.

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Hanne V. Murphey, Roger M. Wakimoto, Cyrille Flamant, and David E. Kingsmill

Abstract

The evolution and finescale structure of a dryline that initiated a line of thunderstorms is presented. Both the along-line variability and mean vertical structure were examined using data collected by an airborne Doppler radar and a water vapor differential absorption lidar (DIAL). The initiation of convection appeared to result from the diurnally induced easterly flow in the maritime air east of the dryline that typically develops late in the day. This flow increased the low-level convergence and allowed rising parcels of air to reach the level of free convection. The along-line variability was largely attributed to numerous misocyclones distorting the thin line of radar reflectivity by advecting dry (moist) air across the dryline south (north) of the misocyclone. The misocyclones also influenced the location of the updrafts, with most of the peak values positioned north of the circulations. As a result, these updrafts were fortuitously positioned in regions of high mixing ratio where the first convective cells initiated.

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Marco Gaetani, Gabriele Messori, Qiong Zhang, Cyrille Flamant, and Francesco S. R. Pausata

Abstract

Understanding the West African monsoon (WAM) dynamics in the mid-Holocene (MH) is a crucial issue in climate modeling, because numerical models typically fail to reproduce the extensive precipitation suggested by proxy evidence. This discrepancy may be largely due to the assumption of both unrealistic land surface cover and atmospheric aerosol concentration. In this study, the MH environment is simulated in numerical experiments by imposing extensive vegetation over the Sahara and the consequent reduction in airborne dust concentration. A dramatic increase in precipitation is simulated across the whole of West Africa, up to the Mediterranean coast. This precipitation response is in better agreement with proxy data, in comparison with the case in which only changes in orbital forcing are considered. Results show a substantial modification of the monsoonal circulation, characterized by an intensification of large-scale deep convection through the entire Sahara, and a weakening and northward shift (~6.5°) of the African easterly jet. The greening of the Sahara also leads to a substantial reduction in the African easterly wave activity and associated precipitation. The reorganization of the regional atmospheric circulation is driven by the vegetation effect on radiative forcing and associated heat fluxes, with the reduction in dust concentration to enhance this response. The results for the WAM in the MH present important implications for understanding future climate scenarios in the region and in teleconnected areas, in the context of projected wetter conditions in West Africa.

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Steven E. Koch, Cyrille Flamant, James W. Wilson, Bruce M. Gentry, and Brian D. Jamison

Abstract

Airborne Leandre II differential absorption lidar (DIAL), S-band dual-polarization Doppler radar (S-Pol), and Goddard Lidar Observatory for Winds (GLOW) Doppler lidar data are used, in conjunction with surface mesonet and special sounding data, to derive the structure and dynamics of a bore and associated solitary wave train (soliton) that were generated in southwestern Kansas during the International H20 Project (IHOP_2002). Vertical cross sections of S-Pol reflectivity, S-Pol radial velocity, and DIAL water vapor mixing ratio show a stunning amplitude-ordered train of trapped solitary waves. DIAL data reveal that the leading wave in the soliton increasingly flattened with time as the soliton dissipated.

A method is developed for using the GLOW Doppler winds to obtain the complex two-dimensional vertical circulation accompanying the dissipating soliton. The results show multiple circulations identical in number to the oscillations seen in the S-Pol and DIAL data. The leading updraft occurred precisely at the time that the bore passed over the GLOW facility, as well as when the photon count values suddenly ramped up (suggesting lifting of the low-level inversion by the bore). Additional evidence in support of the validity of the results is provided by the fact that layer displacements computed using the derived vertical motions agree well with those implied by the changes in height of the DIAL mixing ratio surfaces.

The depth and speed of propagation of the bore seen in the DIAL and surface mesoanalyses were shown to be consistent with the predictions from bore hydraulic theory. Analysis of National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Integrated Sounding System (ISS) data shows that a highly pronounced curvature in the profile of bore-relative winds, related to the existence of a very strong low-level jet, effectively trapped the upward leakage of solitary wave energy below 3 km. This finding explains the trapped lee wave–type structures seen in the DIAL, GLOW, and S-Pol data.

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Christian Herold, Dietrich Althausen, Detlef Müller, Matthias Tesche, Patric Seifert, Ronny Engelmann, Cyrille Flamant, Rohini Bhawar, and Paolo Di Girolamo

Abstract

Water vapor measurements with the multiwavelength Raman lidar Backscatter Extinction Lidar-Ratio Temperature Humidity Profiling Apparatus (BERTHA) were performed during the Convective and Orographically-induced Precipitation Study (COPS) in the Black Forest, Germany, from June to August 2007. For quality assurance, profiles of the water vapor mixing ratio measured with BERTHA are compared to simultaneous measurements of a radiosonde and an airborne differential absorption lidar (DIAL) on 31 July 2007. The differences from the radiosonde observations are found to be on average 1.5% and 2.5% in the residual layer and in the free troposphere, respectively. During the two overflights at 1937 and 2018 UTC, the differences from the DIAL results are −2.2% and −3.7% in the residual layer and 2.1% and −2.6% in the free troposphere. After this performance check, short-range forecasts from the German Meteorological Service’s (Deutscher Wetterdienst, DWD) version of the Consortium for Small-Scale Modeling (COSMO-DE) model are compared to the BERTHA measurements for two case studies. Generally, it is found that water vapor mixing ratios from short-range forecasts are on average 7.9% drier than the values measured in the residual layer. In the free troposphere, modeled values are 9.7% drier than the measurements.

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