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T. Connor Nelson, Lee Harrison, and Kristen L. Corbosiero

Abstract

The newly developed expendable digital dropsonde (XDD) allows for high spatial and temporal resolution data collection in tropical cyclones (TCs). In 2015, a total of 725 XDDs were launched into Hurricanes Marty (27–28 September), Joaquin (2–5 October), and Patricia (20–23 October) as part of the Tropical Cyclone Intensity (TCI) experiment. These dropsondes were launched from a NASA WB-57 at altitudes above 18 km, capturing the full depth of the TCs to the tropopause. This study documents the vertical velocity distributions observed in TCI using the XDDs and examines the distributions altitudinally, radially, and azimuthally. The strongest mean or median XDD-derived vertical velocities observed during TCI occurred in the upper levels and within the cores of the three TCs. There was little azimuthal signal in the vertical velocity distribution, likely due to sampling asymmetries and noise in the data. Downdrafts were strongest in Joaquin, while updrafts were strongest in Patricia, especially within the eyewall on 23 October. Patricia also had an impressive low-level (<2 km) updraft that exceeded 10 m s−1 associated with a shallow, overturning, radial circulation in the secondary eyewall.

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T. Connor Nelson, James Marquis, Adam Varble, and Katja Friedrich

Abstract

The Remote Sensing of Electrification, Lightning, and Mesoscale/Microscale Processes with Adaptive Ground Observations (RELAMPAGO) and Cloud, Aerosol, and Complex Terrain Interactions (CACTI) projects deployed a high-spatiotemporal-resolution radiosonde network to examine environments supporting deep convection in the complex terrain of central Argentina. This study aims to characterize atmospheric profiles most representative of the near-cloud environment (in time and space) to identify the mesoscale ingredients affecting storm initiation and growth. Spatiotemporal autocorrelation analysis of the soundings reveals that there is considerable environmental heterogeneity, with boundary layer thermodynamic and kinematic fields becoming statistically uncorrelated on scales of 1–2 h and 30 km. Using this as guidance, we examine a variety of environmental parameters derived from soundings collected within close proximity (30 km in space and 30 min in time) of 44 events over 9 days where the atmosphere either: 1) supported the initiation of sustained precipitating convection, 2) yielded weak and short-lived precipitating convection, or 3) produced no precipitating convection in disagreement with numerical forecasts from convection-allowing models (i.e., Null events). There are large statistical differences between the Null event environments and those supporting any convective precipitation. Null event profiles contained larger convective available potential energy, but had low free-tropospheric relative humidity, higher freezing levels, and evidence of limited horizontal convergence near the terrain at low levels that likely suppressed deep convective growth. We also present evidence from the radiosonde and satellite measurements that flow–terrain interactions may yield gravity wave activity that affects CI outcome.

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T. Connor Nelson, Lee Harrison, and Kristen L. Corbosiero

Abstract

The newly developed Expendable Digital Dropsondes (XDDs) allow for high spatial and temporal resolution observations of the kinematic and thermodynamic structures in tropical cyclones (TCs). It is important to evaluate both the temporal and spatial autocorrelations within the recorded data to address concerns about spatial interpolation, statistical significance of individual data points, and launch-rate spatial requirements for future dropsonde studies in TCs. Data from 437 XDDs launched into Hurricanes Marty (27–28 September), Joaquin (2–5 October), and Patricia (20–23 October) during the 2015 Tropical Cyclone Intensity (TCI) experiment are used to compute temporal and spatial autocorrelations for vertical velocity, temperature, horizontal wind speed, and equivalent potential temperature. All of the examined variables had temporal autocorrelation scales between approximately 10 and 40 s, with most between 20 and 30 s. Most of the spatial autocorrelation scales were estimated to be 3–10 km. The temporal autocorrelation scales for vertical velocity, horizontal wind speed, and equivalent potential temperature were correlated with updraft depth. Vertical velocity usually had the smallest mean, and median, temporal and estimated spatial autocorrelation scales of approximately 20 s and 3–6 km, respectively. The estimated horizontal scales are below the median sounding spacing and suggest that an increase in the launch rate of the XDDs by a factor of 3–4 from the TCI sampling rate is needed to adequately depict TC kinematics and structure in transects of soundings. The results also indicate that current temporal sampling rates are adequate to depict TC kinematics and structure in a single sounding.

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Sarah D. Ditchek, T. Connor Nelson, Michaela Rosenmayer, and Kristen L. Corbosiero

Abstract

Despite recent improvements made to tropical cyclone intensity predictions, this study investigates a different approach than those attempted thus far. Here, the overall environmental setup at genesis is evaluated to determine whether it predisposes a storm to reach its future maximum intensity. Variables retrieved from ERA-Interim are used to generate storm-centered composites at the time of genesis for Atlantic basin, main development region TCs from 1979–2015. Composites are stratified by their maximum attained intensity: tropical depressions (GTD), tropical storms (GTS), minor hurricanes (GMN), or major hurricanes (GMJ). A multiple-parameter linear regression is then used to associate the eventual attained intensity of tropical cyclone to the obtained variables at genesis. The regression has an adjusted r 2 of 0.39, which indicates that a statistical relationship is present. Regression coefficients, along with the spatial distribution of variables in the storm-centered composites, indicate that storms that reach higher intensities are associated at genesis with stronger, more compact, low-level vortices, better-defined outflow jets, a more compact region of high midlevel relative humidity, and higher atmospheric water vapor content.

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