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Published on February 13, 2008

Author: Vincenza

Source: authorstream.com

VERTICAL VELOCITY AND BUOYANCY CHARACTERISTICS OF COHERENT ECHO PLUMES IN THE CONVECTIVE BOUNDARY LAYER, DETECTED BY A PROFILING AIRBORNE RADAR :  VERTICAL VELOCITY AND BUOYANCY CHARACTERISTICS OF COHERENT ECHO PLUMES IN THE CONVECTIVE BOUNDARY LAYER, DETECTED BY A PROFILING AIRBORNE RADAR Atmospheric Science Dept. University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY 82071 Bart Geerts geerts@uwyo.edu Qun Miao miao@uwyo.edu Margaret LeMone lemone@ucar.edu National Center for Atmospheric Research Aircraft and airborne mm-wave radar observations are used to interpret the dynamics of radar echoes and radar-inferred updrafts within the well-developed, weakly-sheared, continental convective boundary layer (CBL). Vertically-pointing radar reflectivity and Doppler velocity data collected above and below the aircraft, flying along fixed tracks in the central Great Plains during the International Water Vapor Experiment (IHOP_2002), are used to define echo plumes and updraft plumes respectively. Updraft plumes are generally narrower than echo plumes, but both types of plumes have the dynamical properties of buoyant eddies, especially at low levels in the CBL. This buoyancy is driven both by a temperature excess and a water vapor excess over the ambient air. Plumes that are better defined (higher reflectivity or stronger updraft) tend to be more buoyant. Some 34 hours of combined radar and in situ data were collected in the mature CBL in Kansas and Oklahoma aboard the University of Wyoming King Air (WKA) aircraft. In all cases, the synoptic conditions were rather quiescent and the skies mostly cloud-free. The WKA carried a gust probe and measured temperature and humidity at high-frequency. The mature CBL was examined along three fixed tracks, each about 60 km long. The WKA flew straight legs over the three tracks, at several constant heights. This study uses ten flight legs along the western track on 29 May, seven legs along the central track on 6 June, and six legs along the eastern track on 17 June 2002. Summary Conclusions The CBL depth and its local variations are captured well by the radar reflectivity profiles. The distribution of widths of both echo plumes and updraft plumes shows an exponential decay, peaking at or close to the minimum size of 120 m. Updraft plumes are generally narrower than echo plumes. The thermodynamic properties of updraft plumes are quite similar to those of echo plumes. Echo plumes are generally rising and buoyant, and the buoyancy is partly due to excess warmth, and partly due to excess water vapor. Water vapor anomalies are important in the local bulging of the CBL depth above echo plumes. In general, the updraft strength and buoyancy of echo plumes increases with the relative echo strength. The magnitude of the buoyancy agrees with that of the associated updraft. Thus echo plumes and updraft plumes generally correspond with coherent, buoyancy-driven eddies responsible for much of the vertical energy transfer in the CBL. The in-plume buoyancy and vertical velocity profiles are indicative of mixing and entrainment as the plumes are rising. The key implication is that spatial patterns of clear-air echoes within the weakly-sheared CBL (as commonly captured in low-elevation scans of operational ground-based radars) depict the distribution of rising, convective plumes. Radar-inferred CBL depth Echo plumes covering most of the CBL depth clearly mark the fair-weather CBL. Because the scatterer density decreases rapidly across the CBL top, and the radar noise, expressed in reflectivity units, increases with the square of the radar range, we found zi_WCR to be best defined as the level at which the zenith-beam reflectivity reaches a minimum. The zi_WCR values compare well with the thermodynamically-defined CBL depth and backscatter lidar zi estimates (derived from the HRDL). Echo plume definition A conditional sampling technique is used to distinguish echo plumes from their environment based on radar reflectivity. The vertical average reflectivity (Za) comprises 14 gates of radar reflectivity for each profile. An echo plume is defined as a region of Za that is equal to or greater than a threshold value (Z) above the flight-leg-mean radar reflectivity (Zm). The value Z is referred to as the plume strength (ranging from 0 to 5 dB) . Echo plume size characteristics The likelihood of finding a plume, or an inter-plume region, of a given size roughly decays exponentially with size. Assuming a plume strength Z=1 dBZ Assuming a plume strength Z=1 dBZ 2D plumes The 2D structure of plumes can be described as well, using basically the same method as was used to define echo plumes based on Zm, but employing reflectivity data at all heights. Our analysis over three days shows that the normalized plume width and the spacing between plumes tend to increase slightly with height within the CBL Thermodynamic and kinematic properties of echo plumes We now compare the plume-background difference for several in situ variables, namely mixing ratio (r’), potential temperature (q’), virtual potential temperature (θ’v), and vertical air velocity (w’). All these variables were low-pass filtered (using minimum wavelength of 120 m) and detrended . The variation of plume properties inferred from individual flight legs, as a function of height in the CBL. Characteristics of updraft plumes Similar method is used to define updraft plumes. Vertical average radar vertical velocity is used instead of reflectivity. The parameter ∆V is referred to as the updraft plume strength, and it ranges between 0.0 and 1.0 m/s. The size distribution of updraft plumes decays exponentially, as for echo plumes, but updraft plumes tend to be narrower than echo plumes. Assuming a plume strength V=0.0 m/s Thermodynamic and kinematic properties of updraft plumes The vertical variation of updraft plume properties Assuming a plume strength Z=1 dBZ JP6J.3

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