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Earle Williams

Abstract

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Earle R. Williams

Abstract

Comparisons are made between the seasonal behavior of the global electrical circuit and the surface air temperature for the Tropics and for the globe. Positive correlations between global circuit parameters and temperature are identified on both semiannual and annual timescales. Lightning is the global circuit quantity found most responsive to temperature, with a sensitivity of the order of 10% per 1°C. These findings lend further validity to the use of global circuit measurements as a diagnostic for global change.

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Earle R. Williams

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Earle Williams
and
Nilton Renno

Abstract

The ice phase is included in thermodynamic calculations of convective available potential energy (CAPE) for a large number of soundings in the tropical atmosphere, at both land and ocean stations. It is found that the positive-buoyancy contribution to CAPE resulting from the latent heat of fusion more than offsets the negative-buoyancy contribution due to water loading in the reversible thermodynamic process. The departure from moist neutrality in much of the tropical atmosphere exhibits a threshold in boundary-layer wet-bulb potential temperature of 22°–23°C. The corresponding sea surface temperature is approximately 26°C, close to the empirical threshold for hurricane formation, which suggests that conditional instability plays an important role in the latter phenomenon. The simultaneous presence of finite CAPE and infrequent deep convection in the tropics is tentatively attributed to the convective inhibition energy (CINE) and to the mixing process that destroys positive buoyancy in incipient cloud parcels.

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Nilton O. Rennó
and
Earle R. Williams

Abstract

Measurements were made to determine the level of origin of air parcels participating in natural convection. Lagrangian measurements of conservative variables are ideal for this purpose. A simple remotely piloted vehicle was developed to make in situ measurements of pressure, temperature, and humidity in the convective boundary layer. These quasi-Lagrangian measurements clearly show that convective plumes originate in the superadiabatic surface layer. The observed boundary layer plumes have virtual temperature excesses of about 0.4 K in a tropical region (Orlando, Florida) and of about 1.5 K in a desert region (Albuquerque, New Mexico). The water vapor contribution to parcel buoyancy was appreciable in Orlando but in Albuquerque was insignificant. These observations indicate that convective available potential energy should he determined by adiabatically lifting air parcels from the surface layer, at screen level.

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Steven A. Rutledge
,
Earle R. Williams
, and
Thomas D. Keenan

DUNDEE (Down Under Doppler and Electricity Experiment) is described. DUNDEE was carried out in the vicinity of Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia, during the wet seasons of November 1988 through February 1989, and November 1989 through February 1990. The general goal of DUNDEE was to investigate the dynamical and electrical properties of tropical mesoscale convective systems and isolated deep convective storms. Darwin, situated at the southern tip of the “maritime continent,” experiences both monsoon and “break” period conditions during the wet season. We discuss the observational network deployed for DUNDEE and present preliminary scientific results. One particularly interesting observation is a large contrast in the frequency of total lightning between break period convection (high lightning rates) and convection in the monsoon trough (low lightning rates). A relationship between CAPE (convective available potentional energy) and total flash rate is presented and discussed to explain this observation.

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Chuntao Liu
,
Earle R. Williams
,
Edward J. Zipser
, and
Gary Burns

Abstract

The long-standing mainstay of support for C. T. R. Wilson’s global circuit hypothesis is the similarity between the diurnal variation of thunderstorm days in universal time and the Carnegie curve of electrical potential gradient. This rough agreement has sustained the widespread view that thunderstorms are the “batteries” for the global electrical circuit. This study utilizes 10 years of Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) observations to quantify the global occurrence of thunderstorms with much better accuracy and to validate the comparison by F. J. W. Whipple 80 years ago. The results support Wilson’s original ideas that both thunderstorms and electrified shower clouds contribute to the DC global circuit by virtue of negative charge carried downward by precipitation. First, the precipitation features (PFs) are defined by grouping the pixels with rain using 10 years of TRMM observations. Thunderstorms are identified from these PFs with lightning flashes observed by the Lightning Imaging Sensor. PFs without lightning flashes but with a 30-dBZ radar echo-top temperature lower than −10°C over land and −17°C over ocean are selected as possibly electrified shower clouds. The universal diurnal variation of rainfall, the raining area from the thunderstorms, and possibly electrified shower clouds in different seasons are derived and compared with the diurnal variations of the electric field observed at Vostok, Antarctica. The result shows a substantially better match from the updated diurnal variations of the thunderstorm area to the Carnegie curve than Whipple showed. However, to fully understand and quantify the amount of negative charge carried downward by precipitation in electrified storms, more observations of precipitation current in different types of electrified shower clouds are required.

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Marcos L. Pessoa
,
Rafael L. Bras
, and
Earle R. Williams

Abstract

Weather radar, in combination with a distributed rainfall-runoff model, promises to significantly improve real-time flood forecasting. This paper investigates the value of radar-derived precipitation in forecasting streamflow in the Sieve River basin, near Florence, Italy. The basin is modeled with a distributed rainfall-runoff model that exploits topographic information available from digital elevation maps. The sensitivity of the flood forecast to various properties of the radar-derived rainfall is studied. It is found that use of the proper radar reflectivity-rainfall intensity (Z-R) relationship is the most crucial factor in obtaining correct food hydrographs. Errors resulting from spatially averaging radar rainfall are acceptable, but the use of discrete point information (i.e., raingage) can lead to serious problems. Reducing the resolution of the 5-min radar signal by temporally averaging over 15 and 30 min does not lead to major errors. Using 3-bit radar data (rather than the usual 8-bit data) to represent intensifies results in significant operational savings without serious problems in hydrograph accuracy.

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Spiros G. Geotis
,
Earle R. Williams
, and
Chester Liu

Abstract

No abstract available.

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Themis G. Chronis
,
Earle Williams
, and
Emmanouil N. Anagnostou

Abstract

A study employing observations and climatic reanalysis data is concerned with links between convection and the well-documented 6.5-day stratospheric global wave. Observations from a long-range lightning detection network, known as ZEUS, reveal an in-phase behavior between the maximization of daily lightning activity over Africa and the intensification of the wave. To extend the observations on a climatological basis, the authors make use of the outgoing longwave radiation (OLR) as proxy for convection and the surface level pressure (SLP) as an indicator of atmospheric column forcing. Cross-spectral analysis shows significant peaks in coherency between OLR and SLP, apparent only over equatorial Africa and South America (Amazon basin), while strong coherency in this frequency band is absent over the Maritime Continent.

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