Articles | Volume 10, issue 8
Research article
04 Aug 2017
Research article |  | 04 Aug 2017

Vertical air motion retrievals in deep convective clouds using the ARM scanning radar network in Oklahoma during MC3E

Kirk W. North, Mariko Oue, Pavlos Kollias, Scott E. Giangrande, Scott M. Collis, and Corey K. Potvin

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.

Short summary
Vertical air motion retrievals from 3DVAR multiple distributed scanning Doppler radars are compared against collocated profiling radars and retrieved from an upward iteration integration iterative technique to characterize their veracity. The retrieved vertical air motions are generally within 1–2 m s−1 of agreement with profiling radars and better solution than the upward integration technique, and therefore can be used as a means to improve parameterizations in numerical models moving forward.