Vertical air motion retrievals in deep convective clouds using the ARM scanning radar network in Oklahoma during MC3E
Abstract. The US Department of Energy (DOE) Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) program's Southern Great Plains (SGP) site includes a heterogeneous distributed scanning Doppler radar network suitable for collecting coordinated Doppler velocity measurements in deep convective clouds. The surrounding National Weather Service (NWS) Next Generation Weather Surveillance Radar 1988 Doppler (NEXRAD WSR-88D) further supplements this network. Radar velocity measurements are assimilated in a three-dimensional variational (3DVAR) algorithm that retrieves horizontal and vertical air motions over a large analysis domain (100 km × 100 km) at storm-scale resolutions (250 m). For the first time, direct evaluation of retrieved vertical air velocities with those from collocated 915 MHz radar wind profilers is performed. Mean absolute and root-mean-square differences between the two sources are of the order of 1 and 2 m s−1, respectively, and time–height correlations are of the order of 0.5. An empirical sensitivity analysis is done to determine a range of 3DVAR constraint weights that adequately satisfy the velocity observations and anelastic mass continuity. It is shown that the vertical velocity spread over this range is of the order of 1 m s−1. The 3DVAR retrievals are also compared to those obtained from an iterative upwards integration technique. The results suggest that the 3DVAR technique provides a robust, stable solution for cases in which integration techniques have difficulty satisfying velocity observations and mass continuity simultaneously.