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R. A. Ferrare, S. H. Melfi, D. N. Whiteman, K. D. Evans, F. J. Schmidlin, and D. O'C. Starr

Abstract

This paper examines the calibration characteristics of the NASA/GSFC Raman water vapor lidar during three field experiments that occurred between 1991 and 1993. The lidar water vapor profiles are calibrated using relative humidity profiles measured by AIR and Vaisala radiosondes. The lidar calibration computed using the AIR radiosonde, which uses a carbon hygristor to measure relative humidity, was 3%–5% higher than that computed using the Vaisala radiosonde, which uses a thin film capacitive element. These systematic differences were obtained for relative humidities above 30% and so cannot be explained by the known poor low relative humidity measurements associated with the carbon hygristor. The lidar calibration coefficient was found to vary by less than 1% over this period when determined using the Vaisala humidity data and by less than 5% when using the AIR humidity data. The differences between the lidar relative humidity profiles and those measured by these radiosondes are also examined. These lidar–radiosonde comparisons are used in combination with a numerical model of the lidar system to assess the altitude range of the GSFC lidar. The model results as well as the radiosonde comparisons indicate that for a lidar located at sea level measuring a typical midlatitude water vapor profile, the absolute error in relative humidity for a 10-min, 75-m resolution profile is less than 10% for altitudes below 8.5 km. Model results show that this maximum altitude can be extended to 10 km by increasing the averaging time and/or reducing the range resolution.

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Amin K. Dezfuli, Benjamin F. Zaitchik, Hamada S. Badr, Jason Evans, and Christa D. Peters-Lidard

Abstract

Rainfall variability in the Tigris–Euphrates headwaters is a result of interaction between topography and meteorological features at a range of spatial scales. Here, the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model, driven by the NCEP–DOE AMIP-II reanalysis (R-2), has been implemented to better understand these interactions. Simulations were performed over a domain covering most of the Middle East. The extended simulation period (1983–2013) enables us to study seasonality, interannual variability, spatial variability, and extreme events of rainfall. Results showed that the annual cycle of precipitation produced by WRF agrees much more closely with observations than does R-2. This was particularly evident during the transition months of April and October, which were further examined to study the underlying physical mechanisms. In both months, WRF improves representation of interannual variability relative to R-2, with a substantially larger benefit in April. This improvement results primarily from WRF’s ability to resolve two low-level, terrain-induced flows in the region that are either absent or weak in R-2: one parallel to the western edge of the Zagros Mountains, and one along the east Turkish highlands. The first shows a complete reversal in its direction during wet and dry days: when flowing southeasterly it transports moisture from the Persian Gulf to the region, and when flowing northwesterly it blocks moisture and transports it away from the region. The second is more directly related to synoptic-scale systems and carries moist, warm air from the Mediterranean and Red Seas toward the region. The combined contribution of these flows explains about 50% of interannual variability in both WRF and observations for April and October precipitation.

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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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B. B. Demoz, D. O’C. Starr, K. D. Evans, A. R. Lare, D. N. Whiteman, G. Schwemmer, R. A. Ferrare, J. E. M. Goldsmith, and S. E. Bisson

Abstract

Detailed observations of the interactions of a cold front and a dryline over the central United States that led to dramatic undulations in the boundary layer, including an undular bore, are investigated using high-resolution water vapor mixing ratio profiles measured by Raman lidars. The lidar-derived water vapor mixing ratio profiles revealed the complex interaction between a dryline and a cold-frontal system. An elevated, well-mixed, and deep midtropospheric layer, as well as a sharp transition (between 5- and 6-km altitude) to a drier region aloft, was observed. The moisture oscillations due to the undular bore and the mixing of the prefrontal air mass with the cold air at the frontal surface are all well depicted. The enhanced precipitable water vapor and roll clouds, the undulations associated with the bore, the strong vertical circulation and mixing that led to the increase in the depth of the low-level moist layer, and the subsequent lifting of this moist layer by the cold-frontal surface, as well as the feeder flow behind the cold front, are clearly indicated.

A synthesis of the Raman lidar–measured water vapor mixing ratio profiles, satellite, radiometer, tower, and Oklahoma Mesonet data indicated that the undular bore was triggered by the approaching cold front and propagated south-southeastward. The observed and calculated bore speeds were in reasonable agreement. Wave-ducting analysis showed that favorable wave-trapping mechanisms existed; a low-level stable layer capped by an inversion, a well-mixed midtropospheric layer, and wind curvature from a low-level jet were found.

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R. J. Taylor, S. T. Evans, N. K. King, E. T. Stephens, D. R. Packham, and R. G. Vines

Abstract

Convection in the air above an intense fire in northern Australia has been studied, and the results are compared with those of an earlier investigation.

At the height of the fire a short-lived condensation cloud, covering little more than 10% of the total fire area, rose to almost 6000 m above ground level. It is suggested that the rising column acted effectively as a barrier to the wind, so reducing mixing with the surrounding air and allowing convection to proceed very rapidly by the release of latent heat alone. In the earlier study it is likely that similar behavior occurred, but the effect was less marked.

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Kurt B. Waldman, Noemi Vergopolan, Shahzeen Z. Attari, Justin Sheffield, Lyndon D. Estes, Kelly K. Caylor, and Tom P. Evans

Abstract

Given the varying manifestations of climate change over time and the influence of climate perceptions on adaptation, it is important to understand whether farmer perceptions match patterns of environmental change from observational data. We use a combination of social and environmental data to understand farmer perceptions related to rainy season onset. Household surveys were conducted with 1171 farmers across Zambia at the end of the 2015/16 growing season eliciting their perceptions of historic changes in rainy season onset and their heuristics about when rain onset occurs. We compare farmers’ perceptions with satellite-gauge-derived rainfall data from the Climate Hazards Group Infrared Precipitation with Station dataset and hyper-resolution soil moisture estimates from the HydroBlocks land surface model. We find evidence of a cognitive bias, where farmers perceive the rains to be arriving later, although the physical data do not wholly support this. We also find that farmers’ heuristics about rainy season onset influence maize planting dates, a key determinant of maize yield and food security in sub-Saharan Africa. Our findings suggest that policy makers should focus more on current climate variability than future climate change.

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D. R. Easterling, J. L. Evans, P. Ya. Groisman, T. R. Karl, K. E. Kunkel, and P. Ambenje

Variations and trends in extreme climate events have only recently received much attention. Exponentially increasing economic losses, coupled with an increase in deaths due to these events, have focused attention on the possibility that these events are increasing in frequency. One of the major problems in examining the climate record for changes in extremes is a lack of high-quality, long-term data. In some areas of the world increases in extreme events are apparent, while in others there appears to be a decline. Based on this information increased ability to monitor and detect multidecadal variations and trends is critical to begin to detect any observed changes and understand their origins.

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J. R. Wang, S. H. Melfi, P. Racette, D. N. Whitemen, L. A. Chang, R. A. Ferrare, K. D. Evans, and F. J. Schmidlin

Abstract

Simultaneous measurements of atmospheric water vapor were made by the Millimeter-wave Imaging Radiometer (MIR), Raman lidar, and rawinsondes. Two types of rawinsonde sensor packages (AIR and Vaisala) were carried by the same balloon. The measured water vapor profiles from Raman lidar, and the Vaisala and AIR sondes were used in the radiative transfer calculations. The calculated brightness temperatures were compared with those measured from the MIR at all six frequencies (89, 150, 183.3 ± 1, 183.3 ±3, 183.3 ±7, and 220 GHz). The results show that the MIR-measured brightness temperatures agree well (within ±K) with those calculated from the Raman lidar and Vaisala measurements. The brightness temperatures calculated from the AIR sondes differ from the MIR measurements by as much as 10 K, which can be attributed to low sensitivity of the AIR sondes at relative humidity less than 20%. Both calculated and the MIR-measured brightness temperatures were also used to retrieve water vapor profiles. These retrieved profiles were compared with those measured by the Raman lidar and rawinsondes. The results of these comparisons suggest that the MIR can measure the brightness of a target to an accuracy of at most ±K and is capable of retrieving useful water vapor profiles.

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D. N. Whiteman, B. Demoz, K. Rush, G. Schwemmer, B. Gentry, P. Di Girolamo, J. Comer, I. Veselovskii, K. Evans, S. H. Melfi, Z. Wang, M. Cadirola, B. Mielke, D. Venable, and T. Van Hove

Abstract

The NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) Scanning Raman Lidar (SRL) participated in the International H2O Project (IHOP), which occurred in May and June 2002 in the midwestern part of the United States. The SRL received extensive optical modifications prior to and during the IHOP campaign that added new measurement capabilities and enabled unprecedented daytime water vapor measurements by a Raman lidar system. Improvements were also realized in nighttime upper-tropospheric water vapor measurements. The other new measurements that were added to the SRL for the IHOP deployment included rotational Raman temperature, depolarization, cloud liquid water, and cirrus cloud ice water content. In this first of two parts, the details of the operational configuration of the SRL during IHOP are provided along with a description of the analysis and calibration procedures for water vapor mixing ratio, aerosol depolarization, and cirrus cloud extinction-to-backscatter ratio. For the first time, a Raman water vapor lidar calibration is performed, taking full account of the temperature sensitivity of water vapor and nitrogen Raman scattering. Part II presents case studies that permit the daytime and nighttime error statistics to be quantified.

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D. N. Whiteman, B. Demoz, G. Schwemmer, B. Gentry, P. Di Girolamo, D. Sabatino, J. Comer, I. Veselovskii, K. Evans, R-F. Lin, Z. Wang, A. Behrendt, V. Wulfmeyer, E. Browell, R. Ferrare, S. Ismail, and J. Wang

Abstract

The NASA GSFC Scanning Raman Lidar (SRL) participated in the International H2O Project (IHOP) that occurred in May and June 2002 in the midwestern part of the United States. The SRL system configuration and methods of data analysis were described in Part I of this paper. In this second part, comparisons of SRL water vapor measurements and those of Lidar Atmospheric Sensing Experiment (LASE) airborne water vapor lidar and chilled-mirror radiosonde are performed. Two case studies are then presented: one for daytime and one for nighttime. The daytime case study is of a convectively driven boundary layer event and is used to characterize the daytime SRL water vapor random error characteristics. The nighttime case study is of a thunderstorm-generated cirrus cloud case that is studied in its meteorological context. Upper-tropospheric humidification due to precipitation from the cirrus cloud is quantified as is the cirrus cloud optical depth, extinction-to-backscatter ratio, ice water content, cirrus particle size, and both particle and volume depolarization ratios. A stability and back-trajectory analysis is performed to study the origin of wave activity in one of the cloud layers. These unprecedented cirrus cloud measurements are being used in a cirrus cloud modeling study.

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