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James V. Eshbaugh and Stephen J. Frasier

Abstract

The technique by which interferometric radar can measure the time-varying sea surface displacement is outlined, and an experiment to test the performance of this technique is described. A high-resolution X-band imaging radar with spatial resolution of 40 cm was deployed from a small pier observing an area approximately 20 m × 20 m. Radar-derived surface wave heights and orbital velocities were compared to measurements made by a resistive wave wire deployed nearby. Consistency between wave height and velocity measurements, and good agreement of radar and wave-wire height statistics were found. Comparison of significant wave height measurements with the in situ sensors shows a correlation of 0.92, with a slope of 0.97 and an intercept of −0.001 m. Although observed wave heights were small, the good agreement obtained indicates the fine sensitivity of the interferometric technique to measuring surface wave heights. The technique should be applicable to any appropriately configured coherent radar with spatial resolution sufficient to resolve surface waves.

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Paco López Dekker and Stephen J. Frasier

Abstract

An implementation of a radio acoustic sounding system (RASS) using a UHF volume imaging radar is presented. The volume-imaging ability of the radar permits the study the spatial structure of the RASS echo observing both the diffraction pattern on a receiving antenna array and the beamformed images of the RASS intensity. Fine space and time resolution RASS observations of a developing diurnal boundary layer are considered, where observed structures are consistent with theoretical predictions presented in the RASS literature. The RASS amplitude signature is highly variable in space and time, hindering the estimation of complete instantaneous fields of virtual temperature. However, it is possible to obtain spatial statistics. Structure functions computed explicitly show r 2/3 behavior typical of isotropic turbulence and vertical profiles of the structure function parameter show a z −4/3 behavior, although they are significantly larger than expected based on surface measurements.

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Robert F. Contreras and Stephen J. Frasier

Abstract

High spatial and temporal resolution S-band radar observations of insects in the atmospheric boundary layer (ABL) are described. The observations were acquired with a frequency-modulated continuous-wave (FMCW) radar during the 2002 International H20 Project (IHOP_2002) held in Oklahoma in the months of May and June 2002. During the observational period the boundary layer was convective with a few periods of rain. Rayleigh scattering from particulate scatterers (i.e., insects) dominates the return; however, Bragg scattering from refractive index turbulence is also significant, especially at the top of the afternoon boundary layer. There is a strong diurnal signal in the insect backscatter: minima in the morning and at dusk and maxima at night and midafternoon. Insect number densities and radar cross sections (RCSs) are calculated. The RCS values range from less than 10−12 m2 to greater than 10−7 m2 and likewise have a strong diurnal signal. These are converted to equivalent reflectivity measurements that would be reported by typical meteorological radars. The majority of reflectivity measurements from particulate scatterers ranges from −30 to −5 dBZ; however, intense point scatterers (>10 dBZ) are occasionally present. The results show that although insects provide useful targets for characterization of the clear-air ABL, the requirements for continuous monitoring of the boundary layer are specific to time of day and range from −20 dBZ in the morning to −10 to −5 dBZ in the afternoon and nocturnal boundary layer (NBL).

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Stephen R. Guimond, Jun A. Zhang, Joseph W. Sapp, and Stephen J. Frasier

Abstract

The structure of coherent turbulence in an eyewall replacement cycle in Hurricane Rita (2005) is presented from novel airborne Doppler radar observations using the Imaging Wind and Rain Airborne Profiler (IWRAP). The IWRAP measurements and three-dimensional (3D) wind vector calculations at a grid spacing of 250 m in the horizontal and 30 m in the vertical reveal the ubiquitous presence of organized turbulent eddies in the lower levels of the storm. The data presented here, and the larger collection of IWRAP measurements, currently are the highest-resolution Doppler radar 3D wind vectors ever obtained in a hurricane over the open ocean. Coincident data from NOAA airborne radars, the Stepped Frequency Microwave Radiometer, and flight-level data help to place the IWRAP observations into context and provide independent validation. The typical characteristics of the turbulent eddies are the following: radial wavelengths of ~1–3 km (mean value is ~2 km), depths from the ocean surface up to flight level (~1.5 km), aspect ratio of ~1.3, and horizontal wind speed perturbations of 10–20 m s−1. The most intense eddy activity is located on the inner edge of the outer eyewall during the concentric eyewall stage with a shift to the inner eyewall during the merging stage. The evolving structure of the vertical wind shear is connected to this shift and together these characteristics have several similarities to boundary layer roll vortices. However, eddy momentum flux analysis reveals that high-momentum air is being transported upward, in contrast with roll vortices, with large positive values (~150 m2 s−2) found in the turbulent filaments. In the decaying inner eyewall, elevated tangential momentum is also being transported radially outward to the intensifying outer eyewall. These results indicate that the eddies may have connections to potential vorticity waves with possible modifications due to boundary layer shear instabilities.

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Stephen R. Guimond, Lin Tian, Gerald M. Heymsfield, and Stephen J. Frasier

Abstract

Algorithms for the retrieval of atmospheric winds in precipitating systems from downward-pointing, conically scanning airborne Doppler radars are presented. The focus is on two radars: the Imaging Wind and Rain Airborne Profiler (IWRAP) and the High-Altitude IWRAP (HIWRAP). The IWRAP is a dual-frequency (C and Ku bands), multibeam (incidence angles of 30°–50°) system that flies on the NOAA WP-3D aircraft at altitudes of 2–4 km. The HIWRAP is a dual-frequency (Ku and Ka bands), dual-beam (incidence angles of 30° and 40°) system that flies on the NASA Global Hawk aircraft at altitudes of 18–20 km.

Retrievals of the three Cartesian wind components over the entire radar sampling volume are described, which can be determined using either a traditional least squares or variational solution procedure. The random errors in the retrievals due to the airborne radar geometry and noise in the Doppler velocities are evaluated using both an error propagation analysis with least squares theory and a numerical simulation of a hurricane. These analyses show that the vertical and along-track wind errors have strong across-track dependence with values ranging from 0.25 m s−1 at nadir to 2.0 and 1.0 m s−1 at the swath edges, respectively. The average across-track wind errors are ~2.5 m s−1 or 7% of the hurricane wind speed. For typical rotated figure-four flight patterns through hurricanes, the zonal and meridional wind speed errors are ~1.5–2.0 m s−1. Evaluations of both retrieval methods show that the variational procedure is generally preferable to the least squares procedure.

Examples of measured data retrievals from IWRAP during an eyewall replacement cycle in Hurricane Isabel (2003) and from HIWRAP during the development of Tropical Storm Matthew (2010) are shown. Comparisons of IWRAP-measured data retrievals at nadir to flight-level data show errors of ~2.0 m s−1 for vertical winds and ~4.0 m s−1 for horizontal wind speed (~7% of the hurricane wind speed). Additional sources of error, such as hydrometeor fall speed uncertainties and a small height offset in the comparisons, are likely responsible for the larger vertical wind errors when compared to the simulated error analyses.

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Robin L. Tanamachi, Howard B. Bluestein, Jana B. Houser, Stephen J. Frasier, and Kery M. Hardwick

Abstract

On 4 May 2007, a supercell produced an EF-5 tornado that severely damaged the town of Greensburg, Kansas. Volumetric data were collected in the “Greensburg storm” by the University of Massachusetts X-band, mobile, polarimetric Doppler radar (UMass X-Pol) for 70 min; 10 tornadoes were detected. This mobile Doppler radar dataset is one of only a few documenting an EF-5 tornado and the supercell’s transition from short-track, cyclic tornado production (mode 1) to long-track tornado production (mode 2). Using bootstrap confidence intervals, it is determined that the mode-2 tornadoes moved in the same direction as the supercell vault. In contrast, the mode-1 tornadoes moved to the left with respect to the vault.

From polarimetric data collected in this storm, the authors infer the presence of large, oblate drops (high Z DR, high ρ hv) in the forward flank and surrounding some of the tornadoes. The authors speculate that the weak-echo column (WEC) in the Greensburg tornado, which extended above 10 km AGL, was caused primarily by the centrifuging of hydrometeors at low levels and rapid upward transport of relatively scatterer-free air at upper levels. This WEC was collocated at low levels with a low-Z DR, low-ρ hv column, indicating lofted debris.

Dual-Doppler analyses, generated at ~10-min intervals using data from UMass X-Pol and the Dodge City, Kansas, Weather Surveillance Radar-1988 Doppler (WSR-88D), were used to locate updrafts and downdrafts near the hook echo. In the immediate vicinity of tornadoes, diminished Z DR values downstream of analyzed downdrafts may indicate the ingestion by tornadoes of relatively small drops, fallout of larger drops, or a combination of both.

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Jeffrey C. Snyder, Howard B. Bluestein, Vijay Venkatesh, and Stephen J. Frasier

Abstract

Polarimetric weather radars significantly enhance the capability to infer the properties of scatterers within a resolution volume. Previous studies have identified several consistently seen polarimetric signatures in supercells observed in the central United States. Nearly all of these studies used data collected by fixed-site S- and C-band radars. Because there are few polarimetric mobile radars, relatively little has been documented in high-resolution polarimetric data from mobile radars. Compared to S and C bands, there has been very limited examination of polarimetric signatures at X band.

The primary focus of this paper is on one signature that has not been documented previously and one that has had little documentation at X band. The first signature, seen in at least seven supercell datasets collected by a mobile, X-band, polarimetric radar, consists of a narrow band of locally reduced reflectivity factor ZH and differential reflectivity, typically near the location where the hook echo “attaches” to the main body of the storm echo. No consistent pattern is seen in radial velocity VR or copolar cross correlation ρ HV. The small size of this feature suggests a significant heterogeneity in precipitation microphysics, the cause and impact of which are unknown. The greater resolution and the scattering differences at X band compared to other frequencies may make this feature more apparent. The second signature consists of anomalously low ρ HV in areas of high ZH along the left section (relative to storm motion) of the bounded weak-echo region. Examples of other polarimetric signatures at X band are provided.

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Hassan Al-Sakka, Abdel-Amin Boumahmoud, Béatrice Fradon, Stephen J. Frasier, and Pierre Tabary

Abstract

A new fuzzy logic hydrometeor classification algorithm is proposed that takes into account data-based membership functions, measurement conditions, and three-dimensional temperature information provided by a high-resolution nonhydrostatic numerical weather prediction model [the Application of Research to Operations at Mesoscale model (AROME)]. The formulation of the algorithm is unique for X-, C-, and S-band radars and employs wavelength-adapted bivariate membership functions for (ZH, Z DR), (ZH, K DP), and (ZH, ρ HV) that were established by using real data collected by the French polarimetric radars and T-matrix simulations. The distortion of membership functions caused by deteriorating measurement conditions (e.g., precipitation-induced attenuation, signal-to-clutter ratio, signal-to-noise ratio, partial beam blocking, and distance) is documented empirically and subsequently parameterized in the algorithm. The result is an increase in the amount of overlapping between the membership functions of the different hydrometeor types. The relative difference between the probability function values of the first and second choice of the hydrometeor classification algorithm is analyzed as a measure of the quality of identification. Semiobjective scores are calculated using an expert-built validation dataset to assess the respective improvements brought by using “richer” temperature information and by using more realistic membership functions. These scores show a significant improvement in the detection of wet snow.

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Robert D. Palmer, Boon Leng Cheong, Michael W. Hoffman, Stephen J. Frasier, and F. J. López-Dekker

Abstract

For many years, spatial and temporal inhomogeneities in precipitation fields have been studied using scanning radars, cloud radars, and disdrometers, for example. Each measurement technique has its own advantages and disadvantages. Conventional profiling radars point vertically and collect data while the atmosphere advects across the field of view. Invoking Taylor’s frozen turbulence hypothesis, it is possible to construct time-history data, which are used to study the structure and dynamics of the atmosphere. In the present work, coherent radar imaging is used to estimate the true three-dimensional structure of the atmosphere within the field of view of the radar. The 915-MHz turbulent eddy profiler radar is well suited for imaging studies and was used in June 2003 to investigate the effects of turbulence on the formation of rain. The Capon adaptive algorithm was implemented for imaging and clutter rejection purposes. In the past several years, work by the authors and others has proven the Capon method to be effective in this regard and to possess minimal computational burden. A simple but robust filtering procedure is presented whereby echoes from precipitation and clear-air turbulence can be separated, facilitating the study of their interaction. By exploiting the three-dimensional views provided by this imaging radar, it is shown that boundary layer turbulence can have either a constructive or destructive effect on the formation of precipitation. Evidence is also provided that shows that this effect can be enhanced by updrafts in the wind field.

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B. L. Cheong, M. W. Hoffman, R. D. Palmer, Stephen J. Frasier, and F. J. López-Dekker

Abstract

This paper highlights recent results obtained with the Turbulent Eddy Profiler (TEP), which was developed by the University of Massachusetts. This unique 915-MHz radar has up to 64 spatially separated receiving elements, each with an independent receiver. The calibrated raw data provided by this array could be processed using sophisticated imaging algorithms to resolve the horizontal structures within each range gate. After collecting all of the closely spaced horizontal slices, the TEP radar can produce three-dimensional images of echo power, radial velocity, and spectral width. From the radial velocity measurements, it is possible to estimate the three-dimensional wind with high horizontal and vertical resolution. Given the flexibility of the TEP system, various array configurations are possible. In the present work exploitation of the flexibility of TEP is attempted to enhance the rejection of clutter from unwanted biological targets. From statistical studies, most biological clutter results from targets outside the main imaging field of view, that is, the sidelobes and grating lobes (if they exist) of the receiving beam. Because the TEP array's minimum receiver separation exceeds the spatial Nyquist sampling requirement, substantial possibilities for grating-lobe clutter exist and are observed in actual array data. When imaging over the transmit beam volume, the receiving array main lobe is scanned over a ±12.5° region. This scanning also sweeps the grating lobes over a wide angular region, virtually guaranteeing that a biological scatterer outside of the main beam will appear somewhere in the imaged volume. This paper focuses on suppressing pointlike targets in the grating-lobe regions. With a subtle change to the standard TEP array hardware configuration, it is shown via simulations and actual experimental observations (collected in June 2003) that adaptive beamforming methods can subsequently be used to significantly suppress the effects of point targets on the wind field estimates. These pointlike targets can be birds or planes with strong reflectivity. By pointlike the authors mean its appearance is a distinct point (up to the imaging resolution) in the images. The pointlike strong reflectivity signature exploits the capability of adaptive beamforming to suppress the interference using the new array configuration. It should be noted that this same array configuration does not exhibit this beneficial effect when standard Fourier beamforming is employed.

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