Relations of Kinematics, Microphysics and Electrification in an Isolated Mountain Thunderstorm

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  • 1 National Server storms Laboratory, NOAA, Norman, OK 73069
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Abstract

This paper addresses aspects of the airflow, microphysics, and electrification in a mountain thunderstorm which occurred on 7 August 1979 over the Langmuir Laboratory new Socorro, New Mexico, site of the Thunderstorm Research International Program (TRIP). Single Doppler observations are used to form a conceptual model of the essentially one-dimensional storm updraft which is expressed in simple analytical form. A one-dimensional kinematic numerical cloud model is employed with the analytic updraft profile to diagnose the evolution of temperature, war substance, radar reflectivity, space charge density and axial electric field in the main updraft region. Retrieved thermal, microphysical, and electrical variables are verified with in situ aircraft and balloon observations and measured radar reflectivity. The calculated rate of noninductive charge transfer accompanying collision and separation of ice crystals and riming graupel particles is in direct proportion to cloud and precipitation content, and attains a peak value of about 10 C km−3 min−1 between −30° and −40°C. Agreement between calculations and balloon measurements of space charge density and vertical electric field imply that the noninductive graupel-ice charge separation mechanism accounts for a substantial portion of the storm's total separated charge. The peak noninductive charging rate appears to balance the discharge rate implied by the observed flash rate.

Abstract

This paper addresses aspects of the airflow, microphysics, and electrification in a mountain thunderstorm which occurred on 7 August 1979 over the Langmuir Laboratory new Socorro, New Mexico, site of the Thunderstorm Research International Program (TRIP). Single Doppler observations are used to form a conceptual model of the essentially one-dimensional storm updraft which is expressed in simple analytical form. A one-dimensional kinematic numerical cloud model is employed with the analytic updraft profile to diagnose the evolution of temperature, war substance, radar reflectivity, space charge density and axial electric field in the main updraft region. Retrieved thermal, microphysical, and electrical variables are verified with in situ aircraft and balloon observations and measured radar reflectivity. The calculated rate of noninductive charge transfer accompanying collision and separation of ice crystals and riming graupel particles is in direct proportion to cloud and precipitation content, and attains a peak value of about 10 C km−3 min−1 between −30° and −40°C. Agreement between calculations and balloon measurements of space charge density and vertical electric field imply that the noninductive graupel-ice charge separation mechanism accounts for a substantial portion of the storm's total separated charge. The peak noninductive charging rate appears to balance the discharge rate implied by the observed flash rate.

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