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James M. Kurdzo and Robert D. Palmer

Abstract

The current Weather Surveillance Radar-1988 Doppler (WSR-88D) radar network is approaching 20 years of age, leading researchers to begin exploring new opportunities for a next-generation network in the United States. With a vast list of requirements for a new weather radar network, research has provided various approaches to the design and fabrication of such a network. Additionally, new weather radar networks in other countries, as well as networks on smaller scales, must balance a large number of variables in order to operate in the most effective way possible. To offer network designers an objective analysis tool for such decisions, a coverage optimization technique, utilizing a genetic algorithm with a focus on low-level coverage, is presented. Optimization is achieved using a variety of variables and methods, including the use of climatology, population density, and attenuation due to average precipitation conditions. A method to account for terrain blockage in mountainous regions is also presented. Various combinations of multifrequency radar networks are explored, and results are presented in the form of a coverage-based cost–benefit analysis, with considerations for total network lifetime cost.

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Kenta Hood, Sebastián Torres, and Robert Palmer

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Wind turbines cause contamination of weather radar signals that is often detrimental and difficult to distinguish from cloud returns. Because the turbines are always at the same location, it would seem simple to identify where wind turbine clutter (WTC) contaminates the weather radar data. However, under certain atmospheric conditions, anomalous propagation of the radar beam can occur such that WTC corrupts weather data on constantly evolving locations, or WTC can be relatively weak such that contamination on predetermined locations does not occur. Because of the deficiency of using turbine locations as a proxy for WTC, an effective detection algorithm is proposed to perform automatic flagging of contaminated weather radar data, which can then be censored or filtered. Thus, harmful effects can be reduced that may propagate to automatic algorithms or may hamper the forecaster’s ability to issue timely warnings. In this work, temporal and spectral features related to WTC signatures are combined in a fuzzy logic algorithm to classify the radar return as being contaminated by WTC or not. The performance of the algorithm is quantified using simulations and the algorithm is applied to a real data case from the radar facility in Dodge City, Kansas (KDDC). The results illustrate that WTC contamination can be detected automatically, thereby improving the quality control of weather radar data.

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Boon Leng Cheong, Michael W. Hoffman, and Robert D. Palmer

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Numerical simulation can be used for optimizing radar imaging techniques because it allows the accuracy of various techniques to be studied. A simulation of atmospheric conditions by using scatterers in a 3D volume was proposed by Holdsworth and Reid. For this method, the computational burden increases as the square of the number of scatterers. Hence, the simulation can become time consuming if a large number of scatterers is required in order to simulate atmospheric conditions more realistically. A method based on table lookup and linear interpolation is proposed to replace the existing turbulent wind field generation of Holdsworth and Reid. Moreover, this method has the flexibility of incorporating other turbulent wind field data, either measured or modeled. Pseudocode of the simulation using this method is included, and a comparison of the computational burden for each of the techniques is presented.

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Brian R. Corner, Robert D. Palmer, and Miguel F. Larsen

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A new, inexpensive radiosonde transmitter and receiver system has been developed for measuring wind field inhomogeneities in the planetary boundary layer using multiple simultaneously launched balloons. The radiosondes use a narrowband-frequency-modulated carrier signal to transmit atmospheric pressure and temperature information to a surface receiver. The pressure and temperature data transmitted by the radiosondes allow their height above the surface to be ascertained. In addition, the radiosondes can be tracked with a photographic camera system to provide the azimuth and elevation angles of the radiosondes during their ascent, so that their three-dimensional horizontal position can be determined. By tracking the spatial separation of the radiosondes over time, horizontal gradients can be derived. The system hardware and results from preliminary tests are described.

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Casey B. Griffin, David J. Bodine, and Robert Palmer

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This study utilizes data collected by the University of Oklahoma Advanced Radar Research Center’s Polarimetric Radar for Innovations in Meteorology and Engineering (OU-PRIME) C-band radar as well as the federal KTLX and KOUN WSR-88D S-band radars to study a supercell that simultaneously produced a long-track EF-4 tornado and an EF-2 landspout tornado (EF indicates the enhanced Fujita scale) near Norman, Oklahoma, on 10 May 2010. Contrasting polarimetric characteristics of two tornadoes over similar land cover but with different intensities are documented. Also, the storm-scale sedimentation of debris within the supercell is investigated, which includes observations of rotation and elongation of a tornadic debris signature with height. A dual-wavelength comparison of debris at S and C bands is performed. These analyses indicate that lofted debris within the tornado was larger than debris located outside the damage path of the tornado and that debris size outside the tornado increased with height, likely as the result of centrifuging. Profiles of polarimetric variables were observed to become more vertically homogeneous with time.

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Nicholas A. Gasperoni, Ming Xue, Robert D. Palmer, and Jidong Gao

Abstract

The Advanced Regional Prediction System (ARPS) three-dimensional variational (3DVAR) system is enhanced to include the analysis of radar-derived refractivity measurements. These refractivity data are most sensitive to atmospheric moisture content and provide high-resolution information on near-surface moisture that is important to convective initiation (CI) and precipitation forecasting. Observing system simulation experiments (OSSEs) are performed using simulated refractivity data. The impacts of refractivity on CI and subsequent forecasts are investigated in the presence of varying observation error, radar location, data coverage, and different uncertainties in the background field. Cycled refractivity assimilation and forecasts are performed and the results compared to the truth. In addition to the perfect model experiments, imperfect model experiments are performed where the forecasts use the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model instead of the ARPS. A simulation for the 19 May 2010 central plain convection case is used for the OSSEs. It involves a large storm system, large convective available potential energy, and little convective inhibition, allowing for CI along a warm front in northern Oklahoma and ahead of a dryline later to the southwest. Emphasis is placed on the quality of moisture analyses and the subsequent forecasts of CI. Results show the ability of refractivity assimilation to correct low-level moisture errors, leading to improved CI forecasts. Equitable threat scores for reflectivity are generally higher when refractivity data are assimilated. Tests show small sensitivity to increased observational error or ground clutter coverage, and greater sensitivity to the limited data coverage of a single radar.

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Casey B. Griffin, David J. Bodine, and Robert D. Palmer

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Tornadoes are capable of lofting large pieces of debris that present irregular shapes, near-random orientations, and a wide range of dielectric constants to polarimetric radars. The unique polarimetric signature associated with lofted debris is called the tornadic debris signature (TDS). While ties between TDS characteristics and tornado- and storm-scale kinematic processes have been speculated upon or investigated using photogrammetry and single-Doppler analyses, little work has been done to document the three-dimensional wind field associated with the TDS.

Data collected by the Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (KTLX), and Norman, Oklahoma (KOUN), WSR-88D S-band radars as well as the University of Oklahoma’s (OU) Advanced Radar Research Center’s Polarimetric Radar for Innovations in Meteorology and Engineering (OU-PRIME) C-band radar are used to construct single- and dual-Doppler analyses of a tornadic supercell that produced an EF4 tornado near the towns of Moore and Choctaw, Oklahoma, on 10 May 2010. This study documents the spatial distribution of polarimetric radar variables and how each variable relates to kinematic fields such as vertical velocity and vertical vorticity. Special consideration is given to polarimetric signatures associated with subvortices within the tornado. An observation of negative differential reflectivity () at the periphery of tornado subvortices is presented and discussed. Finally, dual-Doppler wind retrievals are compared to single-Doppler axisymmetric wind fields to illustrate the merits of each method.

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Tian-You Yu, Ricardo Reinoso Rondinel, and Robert D. Palmer

Abstract

Radar Doppler spectra that deviate from a Gaussian shape were observed from a tornadic supercell on 10 May 2003, exhibiting features such as a dual peak, flat top, and wide skirt in the nontornadic region. Motivated by these observations, a spectral model of a mixture of two Gaussian components, each defined by its three spectral moments, is introduced to characterize different degrees of deviation from Gaussian shape. In the standard autocovariance method, a Gaussian spectrum is assumed and biases in velocity and spectrum width estimates may result if this assumption is violated. The impact of non-Gaussian weather spectra on these biases is formulated and quantified in theory and, consequently, verified using four experiments of numerical simulations.

Those non-Gaussian spectra from the south region of the supercell are further examined and a nonlinear fitting algorithm is proposed to estimate the six spectral moments and compare to those obtained from the autocovariance method. It is shown that the dual-Gaussian model can better represent observed spectra for those cases. The authors’ analysis suggests that vertical shear may be responsible for the flat-top or the dual-peak spectra in the lower elevation of 0.5° and their transition to the single-peak and wide-skirt spectra in the next elevation scan of 1.5°.

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David J. Bodine, Robert D. Palmer, and Guifu Zhang

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Statistical properties of tornado debris signatures (TDSs) are investigated using S- and C-band polarimetric radar data with comparisons to damage surveys and satellite imagery. Close proximity of the radars to the 10 May 2010 Moore–Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, tornado that was rated as a 4 on the enhanced Fujita scale (EF4) provides a large number of resolution volumes, and good temporal and spatial matching for dual-wavelength comparisons. These comparisons reveal that S-band TDSs exhibit a higher radar reflectivity factor (Z HH) and copolar cross-correlation coefficient (ρ hv) than do C-band TDSs. Higher S-band ρ hv may result from a smaller ratio of non-Rayleigh scatterers to total scatterers due to the smaller electrical sizes of debris and, consequently, reduced resonance effects. A negative Z DR signature is observed at 350 m AGL at both the S and C bands as the tornado passes over a vegetated area near a large body of water. Another interesting signature is a positive (negative) shift in propagation differential phase (ΦDP) at S band (C band), which could result from increased phase folding at C band. With increasing height above 350 m AGL, the S- and C-band Z HH decreases and ρ hv increases, indicating a decrease in debris size. To investigate relationships between polarimetric variables and tornado wind fields, range profiles of radial and tangential wind speeds are obtained using two radars. Velocity profiles reveal radial divergence within vortex core flow through 700 m AGL collocated with the TDS. Formation of a weak-echo hole and higher ρ hv in the vortex center aloft suggests debris centrifuging, outward motion of scatterers due to radial divergence (i.e., two-cell vortex flow), or both.

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Michihiro S. Teshiba, Phillip B. Chilson, Alexander V. Ryzhkov, Terry J. Schuur, and Robert D. Palmer

Abstract

A method is presented by which combined S-band polarimetric weather radar and UHF wind profiler observations of precipitation can be used to extract the properties of liquid phase hydrometeors and the vertical velocity of the air through which they are falling. Doppler spectra, which contain the air motion and/or fall speed of hydrometeors, are estimated using the vertically pointing wind profiler. Complementary to these observations, spectra of rain drop size distribution (DSD) are simulated by several parameters as related to the DSD, which are estimated through the two polarimetric parameters of radar reflectivity (ZH) and differential reflectivity (Z DR) from the scanning weather radar. These DSDs are then mapped into equivalent Doppler spectra (fall speeds) using an assumed relationship between the equivolume drop diameter and the drop’s terminal velocity. The method is applied to a set of observations collected on 11 March 2007 in central Oklahoma. In areas of stratiform precipitation, where the vertical wind motion is expected to be small, it was found that the fall speeds obtained from the spectra of the rain DSD agree well with those of the Doppler velocity estimated with the profiler. For those cases when the shapes of the Doppler spectra are found to be similar in shape but shifted in velocity, the velocity offset is attributed to vertical air motion. In convective rainfall, the Doppler spectra of the rain DSD and the Doppler velocity can exhibit significant differences owing to vertical air motions together with atmospheric turbulence. Overall, it was found that the height dependencies of Doppler spectra measured by the profiler combined with vertical profiles of Z, Z DR, and the cross correlation (ρHV) as well as the estimated spectra of raindrop physical terminal fall speeds from the polarimetric radar provide unique insight into the microphysics of precipitation. Vertical air motions (updrafts/downdrafts) can be estimated using such combined measurements.

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