Search Results

You are looking at 1 - 10 of 11 items for

  • Author or Editor: Gretchen L. Mullendore x
  • Refine by Access: All Content x
Clear All Modify Search
Katelyn A. Barber and Gretchen L. Mullendore

Abstract

Turbulence (clear-air, mountain wave, convectively induced) is an aviation hazard that is a challenge to forecast due to the coarse resolution ultilized in operational weather models. Turbulence indices are commonly used to aid pilots in avoiding turbulence, but these indices have been designed and calibrated for midlatitude clear-air turbulence prediction (e.g., the Ellrod index). A significant limitation with current convectively induced turbulence (CIT) prediction is the lack of storm stage dependency. In this study, six high-resolution simulations of tropical oceanic and midlatitude continental convection are performed to characterize the turbulent environment near various convective types during the developing and mature stages. Second-order structure functions, a diagnostic commonly used to identify turbulence in turbulence prediction systems, are used to characterize the probability of turbulence for various convective types. Turbulence likelihood was found to be independent of region (i.e., tropical vs midlatitude) but dependent on convective stage. The probability of turbulence increased near developing convection for the majority of cases. Additional analysis of static stability and vertical wind shear, indicators of turbulence potential, showed that the convective environment near developing convection was more favorable for turbulence production than mature convection. Near developing convection, static stability decreased and vertical wind shear increased. Vertical wind shear near mature and developing convection was found to be weakly correlated to turbulence intensity in both the tropics and the midlatitudes. This study emphasizes the need for turbulence avoidance guidelines for the aviation community that are dependent on convective stage.

Open access
Emily M. Maddox and Gretchen L. Mullendore

Abstract

An idealized three-dimensional cloud-resolving model is used to investigate the sensitivity of cross-tropopause convective mass transport to tropopause definition. A simulation is conducted to encompass the growth and decay cycle of a supercell thunderstorm, with a focus on irreversible transport above the tropopause. Five previously published tropopause definitions are evaluated: World Meteorological Organization (WMO) temperature lapse rate, potential vorticity, static stability, vertical curvature of the Brunt–Väisälä frequency, and stratospheric tracer concentration. By analyzing the behavior of different definitions both during and after active convection, we are able to define “best” choices for tropopause definitions as those that return to states most closely matching the preconvective environment. Potential vorticity and stratospheric tracer concentration are shown to perform poorly when analyzing deep convection. The WMO thermal tropopause and static stability definitions are found to perform the best, providing similar tropopause placement and quantities of irreversible mass transport. This investigation highlights the challenges of defining a tropopause in the vicinity of deep convection and demonstrates the need to clearly communicate calculation methods and threshold choices in the literature.

Full access
Mariusz Starzec, Gretchen L. Mullendore, and Paul A. Kucera

Abstract

Several months of regional convection-permitting forecasts using two microphysical schemes (WSM6 and Thompson) are evaluated to determine the accuracy of the simulated convective structure and convective depth and the impact of microphysical scheme on simulated convective properties and biases. Forecasts are evaluated by using concepts from object-based approaches to compare the three-dimensional simulated reflectivity field with the reflectivity field as observed by radar. Results from analysis of both schemes reveals that forecasts generally perform well near the surface but differ considerably aloft both from observations and from each other. Forecasts are found to contain too many convective cores that are individually larger than in the observations, with at least double the number of observed convective cores reaching the midtroposphere (i.e., 4–8 km). Although the number of cores is overpredicted, WSM6 cores typically contain lower simulated reflectivity values than the observations, and the regions of highest reflectivity values do not extend far enough vertically. Conversely, Thompson cores are found to have significantly higher reflectivity values within cores, with the strongest intensities extending higher than in the observations and having magnitudes higher than any observed cores. Forecast reflectivity distributions within convective cells are found to contain more spread than in the observations. The study also assessed the uncertainty in simulated reflectivity calculations by using a second commonly utilized method to calculate simulated reflectivity. The sensitivity analysis reveals that the primary conclusions with each method are similar but the variability generated by using different simulated reflectivity calculations can be as pronounced as when using different microphysical schemes.

Full access
Mariusz Starzec, Cameron R. Homeyer, and Gretchen L. Mullendore

Abstract

This study presents a new storm classification method for objectively stratifying three-dimensional radar echo into five categories: convection, convective updraft, precipitating stratiform, nonprecipitating stratiform, and ice-only anvil. The Storm Labeling in Three Dimensions (SL3D) algorithm utilizes volumetric radar data to classify radar echo based on storm height, depth, and intensity in order to provide a new method for updraft classification and improve upon the limitations of traditional storm classification algorithms. Convective updrafts are identified by searching for three known polarimetric radar signatures: weak-echo regions (bounded and unbounded) in the radar reflectivity factor at horizontal polarization (), differential radar reflectivity () columns, and specific differential phase () columns. Additionally, leveraging the three-dimensional information allows SL3D to improve upon missed identifications of weak convection and intense stratiform rain in traditional two-dimensional classification schemes. This study presents the results of applying the SL3D algorithm to several cases of high-resolution three-dimensional composites of NEXRAD WSR-88D data in the contiguous United States. Comparisons with a traditional algorithm that uses two-dimensional maps of are also shown to illustrate the differences of the SL3D algorithm.

Full access
Katelyn A. Barber, Gretchen L. Mullendore, and M. Joan Alexander

Abstract

Convectively induced turbulence (CIT) poses both a serious threat to aviation operations and a challenge to forecasting applications. CIT generation and propagation processes occur on scales between 10 and 1000 m and therefore are best treated with high-resolution cloud-resolving models. However, high-resolution model simulations are computationally expensive, limiting their operational use. In this study, summertime convection in the North Dakota region is simulated over a 1-week period using a variety of model setups that are similar to those utilized in operational and research applications. Eddy dissipation rate and Ellrod index, both popular turbulence metrics, are evaluated across various model resolutions and compared with pilot reports from aircraft. The Ellrod index was found to be extremely sensitive to model resolution and overestimated turbulence intensity. The variability of turbulence values with respect to model resolution and distance away from convection is also examined. Turbulence probability was found to be the greatest when farther than 20 mi (32.2 km) away from convective cores. Model resolution was found to influence the intensity of predicted turbulence, and the model setup with the highest horizontal and vertical resolution predicted the highest turbulence values. However, the influence on turbulence intensity of vertical resolution and convective properties, such as storm depth, was found to be minimal for 3-km horizontal grid spacing.

Full access
Robert G. Fovell, Gretchen L. Mullendore, and Seung-Hee Kim

Abstract

Simulations of a typical midlatitude squall line were used to investigate a mechanism for discrete propagation, defined as convective initiation ahead of an existing squall line leading to a faster propagation speed for the storm complex. Radar imagery often shows new cells appearing in advance of squall lines, suggesting a causal relationship and prompting the search for an “action-at-a-distance” mechanism to explain the phenomenon. In the simulations presented, the identified mechanism involves gravity waves of both low and high frequency generated in response to the latent heating, which subsequently propagate out ahead of the storm. The net result of the low-frequency response, combined with surface fluxes and radiative processes, was a cooler and more moist lower troposphere, establishing a shallow cloud deck extending ahead of the storm. High-frequency gravity waves, excited in response to fluctuations in convective activity in the main storm, were subsequently ducted by the storm’s own upper-tropospheric forward anvil outflow. These waves helped positively buoyant cumulus clouds to occasionally form in the deck. A fraction of these clouds persisted long enough to merge with the main line, invigorating the parent storm. Discrete propagation occurred when clouds developed into deep convection prior to merger, weakening the parent storm. The ducting conditions, as diagnosed with the Scorer parameter, are shown to be sensitive to vertical wind shear and radiation, but not to the microphysical parameterization or simulation geometry.

Full access
John M. Peters, Christopher J. Nowotarski, and Gretchen L. Mullendore

Abstract

This research investigates a hypothesis posed by previous authors, which argues that the helical nature of the flow in supercell updrafts makes them more resistant to entrainment than nonsupercellular updrafts because of the suppressed turbulence in purely helical flows. It was further supposed that this entrainment resistance contributes to the steadiness and longevity of supercell updrafts. A series of idealized large-eddy simulations were run to address this idea, wherein the deep-layer shear and hodograph shape were varied, resulting in supercells in the strongly sheared runs, nonsupercells in the weakly sheared runs, and variations in the percentage of streamwise vorticity in updrafts among runs. Fourier energy spectrum analyses show well-developed inertial subranges in all simulations, which suggests that the percentages of streamwise and crosswise vorticity have little effect on turbulence in convective environments. Additional analyses find little evidence of updraft-scale centrifugally stable flow within updrafts, which has also been hypothesized to limit horizontal mass flux across supercell updrafts. Results suggest that supercells do have smaller fractional entrainment rates than nonsupercells, but these differences are consistent with theoretical dependencies of entrainment on updraft width, and with supercells being wider than nonsupercells. Thus, while supercells do experience reduced fractional entrainment rates and entrainment-driven dilution, this advantage is primarily attributable to increased supercell updraft width relative to ordinary convection, and has little to do with updraft helicity and rotation.

Free access
Nicholas D. Carletta, Gretchen L. Mullendore, Mariusz Starzec, Baike Xi, Zhe Feng, and Xiquan Dong

Abstract

Convective mass transport is the transport of mass from near the surface up to the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere (UTLS) by a deep convective updraft. This transport can alter the chemical makeup and water vapor balance of the UTLS, which affects cloud formation and the radiative properties of the atmosphere. It is, therefore, important to understand the exact altitudes at which mass is detrained from convection. The purpose of this study was to improve upon previously published methodologies for estimating the level of maximum detrainment (LMD) within convection using data from a single ground-based radar. Four methods were used to identify the LMD and validated against dual-Doppler-derived vertical mass divergence fields for six cases with a variety of storm types. The best method for locating the LMD was determined to be the method that used a reflectivity texture technique to determine convective cores and a multilayer echo identification to determine anvil locations. Although an improvement over previously published methods, the new methodology still produced unreliable results in certain regimes. The methodology worked best when applied to mature updrafts, as the anvil needs time to grow to a detectable size. Thus, radar reflectivity is found to be valuable in estimating the LMD, but storm maturity must also be considered for best results.

Full access
Chad Furl, Hatim O. Sharif, Almoutaz El Hassan, Newfel Mazari, Daniel Burtch, and Gretchen L. Mullendore

Abstract

Heavy rainfall and flooding associated with Tropical Storm Hermine occurred on 7–8 September 2010 across central Texas, resulting in several flood-related fatalities and extensive property damage. The largest rainfall totals were received near Austin, Texas, and immediately north, with 24-h accumulations at several locations reaching a 500-yr recurrence interval. Among the most heavily impacted drainage basins was the Bull Creek watershed (58 km2) in Austin, where peak flows exceeded 500 m3 s−1. Storm cells were trained over the small watershed for approximately 6 h because of the combination of a quasi-stationary synoptic feature slowing the storm, orographic enhancement from the Balcones Escarpment, and moist air masses from the Gulf of Mexico sustaining the storm. Weather Research and Forecasting Model simulations with and without the Balcones Escarpment terrain indicate that orographic enhancement affected rainfall. The basin received nearly 300 mm of precipitation, with maximum sustained intensities of 50 mm h−1. The Gridded Surface Subsurface Hydrologic Analysis (GSSHA) model was used to simulate streamflow from the event and to analyze the flood hydrology. Model simulations indicate that the spatial organization of the storm during intense rainfall periods coupled with surface conditions and characteristics mediate stream response.

Full access
Gretchen L. Mullendore, Mary C. Barth, Petra M. Klein, and James H. Crawford

Abstract

Historically, atmospheric field campaigns typically focused on either meteorology or chemistry with very limited complementary observations from the other discipline. In contrast, a growing number of researchers are working across subdisciplines to include meteorological and chemical measurements when planning field campaigns to increase the value of the collected datasets for subsequent analyses. Including select trace gas measurements should be intrinsic to certain dynamics campaigns, as they can add insights into dynamical processes. This paper highlights the mutual benefits of joint dynamics–chemistry campaigns by reporting on a small sample of examples across a broad range of meteorological scales to demonstrate the value of this strategy, with focus on the Deep Convective Clouds and Chemistry (DC3) campaign as a recent example. General recommendations are presented as well as specific recommendations of chemical species appropriate for a range of meteorological temporal and spatial scales.

Full access