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  • Author or Editor: J. R. Spackman x
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E. M. Weinstock, J. B. Smith, D. Sayres, J. R. Spackman, J. V. Pittman, N. Allen, J. Demusz, M. Greenberg, M. Rivero, L. Solomon, and J. G. Anderson

Abstract

This paper describes an instrument designed to measure the sum of gas phase and solid phase water, or total water, in cirrus clouds, and to be mounted in a pallet in the underbelly of the NASA WB-57 research aircraft. The ice water content of cirrus is determined by subtracting water vapor measured simultaneously by the Harvard water vapor instrument on the aircraft. The total water instrument uses an isokinetic inlet to maintain ambient particle concentrations as air enters the instrument duct, a 600-W heater mounted directly in the flow to evaporate the ice particles, and a Lyman-α photofragment fluorescence technique for detection of the total water content of the ambient air. Isokinetic flow is achieved with an actively controlled roots pump by referencing aircraft pressure, temperature, and true airspeed, together with instrument flow velocity, temperature, and pressure. Laboratory calibrations that utilize a water vapor addition system that adds air with a specific humidity tied to the vapor pressure of water at room temperature and crosschecked by axial and radial absorption of Lyman-α radiation at the detection axis are described in detail. The design provides for in-flight validation of the laboratory calibration by intercomparison with total water measured by radial absorption at the detection axis. Additionally, intercomparisons in clear air with the Harvard water vapor instrument are carried out. Based on performance of the Harvard water vapor instrument, this instrument has the detection capability of making accurate measurements of total water with mixing ratios in the mid- to upper troposphere of up to 2500 ppmv and mixing ratios in the lower stratosphere of about 5 ppmv, corresponding to almost three orders of magnitude in measurement capability.

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E. P. Nowottnick, P. R. Colarco, S. A. Braun, D. O. Barahona, A. da Silva, D. L. Hlavka, M. J. McGill, and J. R. Spackman

Abstract

During the 2012 deployment of the NASA Hurricane and Severe Storm Sentinel (HS3) field campaign, several flights were dedicated to investigating Hurricane Nadine. Hurricane Nadine developed in close proximity to the dust-laden Saharan air layer and is the fourth-longest-lived Atlantic hurricane on record, experiencing two strengthening and weakening periods during its 22-day total life cycle as a tropical cyclone. In this study, the NASA GEOS-5 atmospheric general circulation model and data assimilation system was used to simulate the impacts of dust during the first intensification and weakening phases of Hurricane Nadine using a series of GEOS-5 forecasts initialized during Nadine’s intensification phase (12 September 2012). The forecasts explore a hierarchy of aerosol interactions within the model: no aerosol interaction, aerosol–radiation interactions, and aerosol–radiation and aerosol–cloud interactions simultaneously, as well as variations in assumed dust optical properties. When only aerosol–radiation interactions are included, Nadine’s track exhibits sensitivity to dust shortwave absorption, as a more absorbing dust introduces a shortwave temperature perturbation that impacts Nadine’s structure and steering flow, leading to a northward track divergence after 5 days of simulation time. When aerosol–cloud interactions are added, the track exhibits little sensitivity to dust optical properties. This result is attributed to enhanced longwave atmospheric cooling from clouds that counters shortwave atmospheric warming by dust surrounding Nadine, suggesting that aerosol–cloud interactions are a more significant influence on Nadine’s track than aerosol–radiation interactions. These findings demonstrate that tropical systems, specifically their track, can be impacted by dust interaction with the atmosphere.

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F. M. Ralph, S. F. Iacobellis, P. J. Neiman, J. M. Cordeira, J. R. Spackman, D. E. Waliser, G. A. Wick, A. B. White, and C. Fairall

Abstract

Aircraft dropsonde observations provide the most comprehensive measurements to date of horizontal water vapor transport in atmospheric rivers (ARs). The CalWater experiment recently more than tripled the number of ARs probed with the required measurements. This study uses vertical profiles of water vapor, wind, and pressure obtained from 304 dropsondes across 21 ARs. On average, total water vapor transport (TIVT) in an AR was 4.7 × 108 ± 2 × 108 kg s−1. This magnitude is 2.6 times larger than the average discharge of liquid water from the Amazon River. The mean AR width was 890 ± 270 km. Subtropical ARs contained larger integrated water vapor (IWV) but weaker winds than midlatitude ARs, although average TIVTs were nearly the same. Mean TIVTs calculated by defining the lateral “edges” of ARs using an IVT threshold versus an IWV threshold produced results that differed by less than 10% across all cases, but did vary between the midlatitudes and subtropical regions.

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F. M. Ralph, M. Dettinger, D. Lavers, I. V. Gorodetskaya, A. Martin, M. Viale, A. B. White, N. Oakley, J. Rutz, J. R. Spackman, H. Wernli, and J. Cordeira
Open access
Paul J. Neiman, Natalie Gaggini, Christopher W. Fairall, Joshua Aikins, J. Ryan Spackman, L. Ruby Leung, Jiwen Fan, Joseph Hardin, Nicholas R. Nalli, and Allen B. White

Abstract

To gain a more complete observational understanding of atmospheric rivers (ARs) over the data-sparse open ocean, a diverse suite of mobile observing platforms deployed on NOAA’s R/V Ronald H. Brown (RHB) and G-IV research aircraft during the CalWater-2015 field campaign was used to describe the structure and evolution of a long-lived AR modulated by six frontal waves over the northeastern Pacific during 20–25 January 2015. Satellite observations and reanalysis diagnostics provided synoptic-scale context, illustrating the warm, moist southwesterly airstream within the quasi-stationary AR situated between an upper-level trough and ridge. The AR remained offshore of the U.S. West Coast but made landfall across British Columbia where heavy precipitation fell. A total of 47 rawinsondes launched from the RHB provided a comprehensive thermodynamic and kinematic depiction of the AR, including uniquely documenting an upward intrusion of strong water vapor transport in the low-level moist southwesterly flow during the passage of frontal waves 2–6. A collocated 1290-MHz wind profiler showed an abrupt frontal transition from southwesterly to northerly flow below 1 km MSL coinciding with the tail end of AR conditions. Shipborne radar and disdrometer observations in the AR uniquely captured key microphysical characteristics of shallow warm rain, convection, and deep mixed-phase precipitation. Novel observations of sea surface fluxes in a midlatitude AR documented persistent ocean surface evaporation and sensible heat transfer into the ocean. The G-IV aircraft flew directly over the ship, with dropsonde and radar spatial analyses complementing the temporal depictions of the AR from the RHB. The AR characteristics varied, depending on the location of the cross section relative to the frontal waves.

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F. M. Ralph, K. A. Prather, D. Cayan, J. R. Spackman, P. DeMott, M. Dettinger, C. Fairall, R. Leung, D. Rosenfeld, S. Rutledge, D. Waliser, A. B. White, J. Cordeira, A. Martin, J. Helly, and J. Intrieri

Abstract

The variability of precipitation and water supply along the U.S. West Coast creates major challenges to the region’s economy and environment, as evidenced by the recent California drought. This variability is strongly influenced by atmospheric rivers (ARs), which deliver much of the precipitation along the U.S. West Coast and can cause flooding, and by aerosols (from local sources and transported from remote continents and oceans) that modulate clouds and precipitation. A better understanding of these processes is needed to reduce uncertainties in weather predictions and climate projections of droughts and floods, both now and under changing climate conditions.

To address these gaps, a group of meteorologists, hydrologists, climate scientists, atmospheric chemists, and oceanographers have created an interdisciplinary research effort, with support from multiple agencies. From 2009 to 2011 a series of field campaigns [California Water Service (CalWater) 1] collected atmospheric chemistry, cloud microphysics, and meteorological measurements in California and associated modeling and diagnostic studies were carried out. Based on the remaining gaps, a vision was developed to extend these studies offshore over the eastern North Pacific and to enhance land-based measurements from 2014 to 2018 (CalWater-2). The dataset and selected results from CalWater-1 are summarized here. The goals of CalWater-2, and measurements to date, are then described.

CalWater is producing new findings and exploring new technologies to evaluate and improve global climate models and their regional performance and to develop tools supporting water and hydropower management. These advances also have potential to enhance hazard mitigation by improving near-term weather prediction and subseasonal and seasonal outlooks.

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Joel R. Norris, F. Martin Ralph, Reuben Demirdjian, Forest Cannon, Byron Blomquist, Christopher W. Fairall, J. Ryan Spackman, Simone Tanelli, and Duane E. Waliser

Abstract

Combined airborne, shipboard, and satellite measurements provide the first observational assessment of all major terms of the vertically integrated water vapor (IWV) budget for a 150 km × 160 km region within the core of a strong atmospheric river over the northeastern Pacific Ocean centered on 1930 UTC 5 February 2015. Column-integrated moisture flux convergence is estimated from eight dropsonde profiles, and surface rain rate is estimated from tail Doppler radar reflectivity measurements. Dynamical convergence of water vapor (2.20 ± 0.12 mm h−1) nearly balances estimated precipitation (2.47 ± 0.41 mm h−1), but surface evaporation (0.0 ± 0.05 mm h−1) is negligible. Advection of drier air into the budget region (−1.50 ± 0.21 mm h−1) causes IWV tendency from the sum of all terms to be negative (−1.66 ± 0.45 mm h−1). An independent estimate of IWV tendency obtained from the difference between IWV measured by dropsonde and retrieved by satellite 3 h earlier is less negative (−0.52 ± 0.24 mm h−1), suggesting the presence of substantial temporal variability that is smoothed out when averaging over several hours. The calculation of budget terms for various combinations of dropsonde subsets indicates the presence of substantial spatial variability at ~50-km scales for precipitation, moisture flux convergence, and IWV tendency that is smoothed out when averaging over the full budget region. Across subregions, surface rain rate is linearly proportional to dynamical convergence of water vapor. These observational results improve our understanding of the thermodynamic and kinematic processes that control IWV in atmospheric rivers and the scales at which they occur.

Open access
Nicholas R. Nalli, Christopher D. Barnet, Tony Reale, Quanhua Liu, Vernon R. Morris, J. Ryan Spackman, Everette Joseph, Changyi Tan, Bomin Sun, Frank Tilley, L. Ruby Leung, and Daniel Wolfe

Abstract

This paper examines the performance of satellite sounder atmospheric vertical moisture profiles under tropospheric conditions encompassing moisture contrasts driven by convection and advection transport mechanisms, specifically Atlantic Ocean Saharan air layers (SALs), tropical Hadley cells, and Pacific Ocean atmospheric rivers (ARs). Operational satellite sounder moisture profile retrievals from the Suomi National Polar-Orbiting Partnership (SNPP) NOAA Unique Combined Atmospheric Processing System (NUCAPS) are empirically assessed using collocated dedicated radiosonde observations (raobs) obtained from ocean-based intensive field campaigns. The raobs from these campaigns provide uniquely independent correlative truth data not assimilated into numerical weather prediction (NWP) models for satellite sounder validation over oceans. Although ocean cases are often considered “easy” by the satellite remote sensing community, these hydrometeorological phenomena present challenges to passive sounders, including vertical gradient discontinuities (e.g., strong inversions), as well as persistent uniform clouds, aerosols, and precipitation. It is found that the operational satellite sounder 100-layer moisture profile NUCAPS product performs close to global uncertainty requirements in the SAL/Hadley cell environment, with biases relative to raob within 10% up to 350 hPa. In the more difficult AR environment, bias relative to raob is found to be within 20% up to 400 hPa. In both environments, the sounder moisture retrievals are comparable to NWP model outputs, and cross-sectional analyses show the capability of the satellite sounder for detecting and resolving these tropospheric moisture features, thereby demonstrating a near-real-time forecast utility over these otherwise raob-sparse regions.

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