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Alexandra L. Jones
and
Larry Di Girolamo

Abstract

The Intercomparison of 3D Radiation Codes (I3RC) community Monte Carlo model has been extended to include a source of photon emission from the surface and atmosphere, thereby making it capable of simulating scalar radiative transfer in a 3D scattering, absorbing, and emitting domain with both internal and external sources. The theoretical basis, computational implementation, verification of the internal emission, and computational performance of the resulting model, the “IMC+emission,” is presented. Thorough verification includes fundamental tests of reciprocity and energy conservation, comparison to analytical solutions, and comparison with another 3D model, the Spherical Harmonics Discrete Ordinate Method (SHDOM). All comparisons to fundamental tests and analytical solutions are accurate to within the precision of the simulations—typically better than 0.05%. Comparison cases to SHDOM were typically within a few percent, except for flux divergence near cloud edges, where the effects of grid definition between the two models manifest themselves. Finally, the model is applied to the established I3RC case 4 cumulus cloud field to provide a benchmark result, and computational performance and strong and weak scaling metrics are presented. The outcome is a thoroughly vetted, publicly available, open-source benchmark tool to study 3D radiative transfer from either internal or external sources of radiation at wavelengths for which scattering, emission, and absorption are important.

Open access
I. Astin
and
L. Di Girolamo

Abstract

In order to detect weakly reflecting clouds, radar pulse returns are often averaged over a considerable time to increase the probability of the sample volume being registered as cloudy. However, if the sample volume is registered as cloudy, it may not be completely cloud filled. Hence, equating the observed cloud fraction to the fraction of sample volumes that are registered as cloudy may underestimate or overestimate the actual cloud fraction. A published cloud detection criterion (γ observed < γ req) based on the observed radiometric resolution, γ observed, of the final cloud product is used to demonstrate how thresholds for γ req are derived to minimize the difference between the observed and true long-term cloud fractions. As an example, thresholds for observing difficult-to-detect thin (mean thickness of 200 m) liquid water clouds, the reflectivities of which are shown to follow a Weibull distribution, are derived with specific reference to both the EarthCARE and CloudSat radar designs. These show that the CloudSat design, with a proposed γ req = 2, will tend to underestimate the cloud fraction of such clouds, and a value of γ req = 4 may be more appropriate. However, at γ req = 2 the CloudSat long-term observed cloud fraction is insensitive to the mean size, and hence the spatial distribution, of such clouds and so would be useful in detecting changes in cloud fraction. On the other hand, the proposed EarthCARE radar is more sensitive and has a longer sampling volume and so should give unbiased estimates of such clouds for a γ req of 1.5. Its longer sampling volume, however, makes it more responsive to changes in mean cloud size, and so any changes in its long-term returned cloud fraction could result from such changes, as well as from changes in cloud fraction.

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Jennifer L. Davison
,
Robert M. Rauber
, and
Larry Di Girolamo

Abstract

Persistent layers of enhanced equivalent radar reflectivity factor and reduced spectral width were commonly observed within cloud-free regions of the tropical marine boundary layer (TMBL) with the National Center for Atmospheric Research S-Pol radar during the Rain in Cumulus over the Ocean (RICO) field campaign. Bragg scattering is shown to be the primary source of these layers. Two mechanisms are proposed to explain the Bragg scattering layers (BSLs), the first involving turbulent mixing and the second involving detrainment and evaporation of cloudy air. These mechanisms imply that BSLs should exist in layers with tops (bases) defined by local relative humidity (RH) minima (maxima). The relationship between BSLs and RH is explored.

An equation for the vertical gradient of radio refractivity N is derived, and a scale analysis is used to demonstrate the close relationship between vertical RH and N gradients. This is tested using the derived radar BSL boundary altitudes, 131 surface-based soundings, and 34 sets of about six near-coincident, aircraft-released dropsondes. First, dropsonde data are used to quantify the finescale variability of the RH field. Then, within limits imposed by this variability, altitudes of tops (bases) of radar BSLs are shown to agree with altitudes of RH minima (maxima). These findings imply that S-band radars can be used to track the vertical profile of RH variations as a function of time and height, that the vertical RH profile of the TMBL is highly variable over horizontal scales as small as 60 km, and that BSLs are a persistent, coherent feature that delineate aspects of TMBL mesoscale structure.

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Jennifer L. Davison
,
Robert M. Rauber
,
Larry Di Girolamo
, and
Margaret A. LeMone

Abstract

This paper investigates wintertime tropical marine boundary layer (TMBL) statistical characteristics over the western North Atlantic using the complete set of island-launched soundings from the Rain in Cumulus over the Ocean (RICO) experiment. The soundings are subdivided into undisturbed and disturbed classifications using two discriminators: 1) dates chosen by Global Energy and Water Cycle Experiment (GEWEX) Cloud System Studies (GCSS) investigators to construct the mean RICO sounding and 2) daily average rain rates.

A wide range of relative humidity (RH) values was observed between the surface and 8.0 km. At 2.0 km, half the RH values were within 56%–89%; at 4.0 km, half were within 13%–61%. The rain-rate method of separating disturbed and undisturbed soundings appears more meaningful than the GCSS method. The median RH for disturbed conditions using the rain-rate method showed moister conditions from the surface to 8.0 km, with maximum RH differences of 30%–40%. Moist air generally extended higher on disturbed than undisturbed days.

Based on equivalent potential temperature, wind direction, and RH analyses, the most common altitude marking the TMBL top was about 4.0 km. Temperature inversions (over both 50- and 350-m intervals) were observed at every altitude above 1.2 km; there were no dominant inversion heights and most of the inversions were weak. Wind direction analyses indicated that winds within the TMBL originated from more tropical latitudes on disturbed days.

The analyses herein suggest that the RICO profile used to initialize many model simulations of this environment represents only a small subset of the broad range of possible conditions characterizing the wintertime trades.

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Jennifer L. Davison
,
Robert M. Rauber
,
Larry Di Girolamo
, and
Margaret A. LeMone

Abstract

This paper examines the structure and variability of the moisture field in the tropical marine boundary layer (TMBL) as defined by Bragg scattering layers (BSLs) observed with S-band radar. Typically, four to five BSLs were present in the TMBL, including the transition layer at the top of the surface-based mixed layer. The transition-layer depth (~350 m) exhibited a weak diurnal cycle because of changes in the mixed-layer depth. BSLs and the “clear” layers between them each had a median thickness of about 350 m and a lifetime over the radar of 8.4 h, with about 25% having lifetimes longer than 20 h. More (fewer) BSLs were present when surface winds had a more southerly (northerly) component. Both BSLs and clear layers increased in depth with increasing rain rates, with the rainiest days producing layers that were about 100 m thicker than those on the driest days. The analyses imply that the relative humidity (RH) field in the TMBL exhibits layering on scales observable by radar. Satellite and wind profiler measurements show that the layered RH structure is related, at least in part, to detraining cloudy air.

Based on analyses in this series of papers, a revised conceptual model of the TMBL is presented that emphasizes moisture variability and incorporates multiple moist and dry layers and a higher TMBL top. The model is supported by comparing BSL tops with satellite-derived cloud tops. This comparison suggests that the layered RH structure is related, in part, to cloud detrainment at preferred altitudes within the TMBL. The potential ramifications of this change in TMBL conceptualization on modeling of the TMBL are discussed.

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É. Gerard
,
D. G. H. Tan
,
L. Garand
,
V. Wulfmeyer
,
G. Ehret
, and
P. Di Girolamo

The need for an absolute standard for water vapor observations, in the form of a global dataset with high accuracy and good spatial resolution, has long been recognized. The European Space Agency's Water Vapour Lidar Experiment in Space (WALES) mission aims to meet this need by providing high-quality water vapor profiles, globally and with good vertical resolution, using a differential absorption lidar (DIAL) system in a low earth-orbit satellite. WALES will be the first active system to measure humidity from space routinely. With launch envisaged in the 2008–2010 time frame and a minimum duration of two years, the primary mission goals are to (a) contribute to scientific research and (b) demonstrate the feasibility of longer-term operational missions. This paper assesses the benefits of the anticipated data to NWP through quantitative analysis of information content. Good vertical resolution and low random errors are shown to give substantial improvements in analysis error in one-dimensional variational data assimilation (1DVAR) comparisons with advanced infrared sounders. In addition, the vertical extent of the profiles is shown to reach 16.5 km or ~100 hPa, well above the limit of radiance assimilation (13 km or 200 hPa). Also highlighted are important applications in atmospheric sciences and climate research that would benefit from the low bias promised by spaceborne DIAL data and their complementarity to other types of humidity observations.

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Tammy M. Weckwerth
,
Lindsay J. Bennett
,
L. Jay Miller
,
Joël Van Baelen
,
Paolo Di Girolamo
,
Alan M. Blyth
, and
Tracy J. Hertneky

Abstract

A case study of orographic convection initiation (CI) that occurred along the eastern slopes of the Vosges Mountains in France on 6 August 2007 during the Convective and Orographically-Induced Precipitation Study (COPS) is presented. Global positioning system (GPS) receivers and two Doppler on Wheels (DOW) mobile radars sampled the preconvective and storm environments and were respectively used to retrieve three-dimensional tomographic water vapor and wind fields. These retrieved data were supplemented with temperature, moisture, and winds from radiosondes from a site in the eastern Rhine Valley. High-resolution numerical simulations with the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model were used to further investigate the physical processes leading to convective precipitation.

This unique, time-varying combination of derived water vapor and winds from observations illustrated an increase in low-level moisture and convergence between upslope easterlies and downslope westerlies along the eastern slope of the Vosges Mountains. Uplift associated with these shallow, colliding boundary layer flows eventually led to the initiation of moist convection. WRF reproduced many features of the observed complicated flow, such as cyclonic (anticyclonic) flow around the southern (northern) end of the Vosges Mountains and the east-side convergent flow below the ridgeline. The WRF simulations also illustrated spatial and temporal variability in buoyancy and the removal of the lids prior to convective development. The timing and location of CI from the WRF simulations was surprisingly close to that observed.

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Kevin J. Mueller
,
Dong L. Wu
,
Ákos Horváth
,
Veljko M. Jovanovic
,
Jan-Peter Muller
,
Larry Di Girolamo
,
Michael J. Garay
,
David J. Diner
,
Catherine M. Moroney
, and
Steve Wanzong

Abstract

Cloud motion vector (CMV) winds retrieved from the Multiangle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) instrument on the polar-orbiting Terra satellite from 2003 to 2008 are compared with collocated atmospheric motion vectors (AMVs) retrieved from Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) imagery over the tropics and midlatitudes and from Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) imagery near the poles. MISR imagery from multiple view angles is exploited to jointly retrieve stereoscopic cloud heights and motions, showing advantages over the AMV heights assigned by radiometric means, particularly at low heights (<3 km) that account for over 95% of MISR CMV sampling. MISR–GOES wind differences exhibit a standard deviation ranging with increasing height from 3.3 to 4.5 m s−1 for a high-quality [quality indicator (QI) ≥ 80] subset where height differences are <1.5 km. Much of the observed difference can be attributed to the less accurately retrieved component of CMV motion along the direction of satellite motion. MISR CMV retrieval is subject to correlation between error in retrieval of this along-track component and of height. This manifests as along-track bias varying with height to magnitudes as large as 2.5 m s−1. The cross-track component of MISR CMVs shows small (<0.5 m s−1) bias and standard deviation of differences (1.7 m s−1) relative to GOES AMVs. Larger differences relative to MODIS are attributed to the tracking of cloud features at heights lower than MODIS in multilayer cloud scenes.

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J. P. Taylor
,
W. L Smith
,
V. Cuomo
,
A. M. Larar
,
D. K. Zhou
,
C. Serio
,
T. Maestri
,
R. Rizzi
,
S. Newman
,
P. Antonelli
,
S. Mango
,
P. Di Girolamo
,
F. Esposito
,
G. Grieco
,
D. Summa
,
R. Restieri
,
G. Masiello
,
F. Romano
,
G. Pappalardo
,
G. Pavese
,
L. Mona
,
A. Amodeo
, and
G. Pisani

The international experiment called the European Aqua Thermodynamic Experiment (EAQUATE) was held in September 2004 in Italy and the United Kingdom to validate Aqua satellite Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) radiance measurements and derived products with certain groundbased and airborne systems useful for validating hyperspectral satellite sounding observations. A range of flights over land and marine surfaces were conducted to coincide with overpasses of the AIRS instrument on the Earth Observing System Aqua platform. Direct radiance evaluation of AIRS using National Polar-Orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) Airborne Sounder Testbed-Interferometer (NAST-I) and the Scanning High-Resolution Infrared Sounder has shown excellent agreement. Comparisons of level-2 retrievals of temperature and water vapor from AIRS and NAST-I validated against high-quality lidar and dropsonde data show that the 1-K/l-km and 10%/1-km requirements for temperature and water vapor (respectively) are generally being met. The EAQUATE campaign has proven the need for synergistic measurements from a range of observing systems for satellite calibration/validation and has paved the way for future calibration/validation activities in support of the Infrared Atmospheric Sounding Interferometer on the European Meteorological Operational platform and Cross-Track Infrared Sounder on the U.S. NPOESS Prepatory Project platform.

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C. J. Stubenrauch
,
W. B. Rossow
,
S. Kinne
,
S. Ackerman
,
G. Cesana
,
H. Chepfer
,
L. Di Girolamo
,
B. Getzewich
,
A. Guignard
,
A. Heidinger
,
B. C. Maddux
,
W. P. Menzel
,
P. Minnis
,
C. Pearl
,
S. Platnick
,
C. Poulsen
,
J. Riedi
,
S. Sun-Mack
,
A. Walther
,
D. Winker
,
S. Zeng
, and
G. Zhao

Clouds cover about 70% of Earth's surface and play a dominant role in the energy and water cycle of our planet. Only satellite observations provide a continuous survey of the state of the atmosphere over the entire globe and across the wide range of spatial and temporal scales that compose weather and climate variability. Satellite cloud data records now exceed more than 25 years; however, climate data records must be compiled from different satellite datasets and can exhibit systematic biases. Questions therefore arise as to the accuracy and limitations of the various sensors and retrieval methods. The Global Energy and Water Cycle Experiment (GEWEX) Cloud Assessment, initiated in 2005 by the GEWEX Radiation Panel (GEWEX Data and Assessment Panel since 2011), provides the first coordinated intercomparison of publicly available, standard global cloud products (gridded monthly statistics) retrieved from measurements of multispectral imagers (some with multiangle view and polarization capabilities), IR sounders, and lidar. Cloud properties under study include cloud amount, cloud height (in terms of pressure, temperature, or altitude), cloud thermodynamic phase, and cloud radiative and bulk microphysical properties (optical depth or emissivity, effective particle radius, and water path). Differences in average cloud properties, especially in the amount of high-level clouds, are mostly explained by the inherent instrument measurement capability for detecting and/or identifying optically thin cirrus, especially when overlying low-level clouds. The study of long-term variations with these datasets requires consideration of many factors. The monthly gridded database presented here facilitates further assessments, climate studies, and the evaluation of climate models.

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