A polarimetric radar analysis of convection observed during NAME and TiMREX
Rowe, Angela Kaye, author
Rutledge, Steven A., advisor
Johnson, Richard H., committee member
Van den Heever, Susan C., committee member
Lang, Timothy James, committee member
Eykholt, Richard Eric, 1956-, committee member
The mountainous regions of northwestern Mexico and southwestern Taiwan experience periods of intense rainfall associated with the North American and Asian monsoons, respectively, as warm, moist air is ushered onshore due to a reversal of mean low-level winds. Potentially unstable air is lifted along the steep topography, leading to convective initiation over the high peaks and adjacent foothills in both regions. In addition, an enhancement of convection in preexisting systems is observed due to interaction with the terrain, leading to localized heavy rain along the western slopes. The predictability of warm-reason rainfall in these regions is limited by the lack of understanding of the nature of these precipitating features, including the diurnal variability and elevation-dependent trends in microphysical processes. Using polarimetric data from NCAR's S-band, polarimetric radar (S-Pol), deployed during the North American Monsoon Experiment (NAME) and Terrain-influenced Monsoon Rainfall Experiment (TiMREX), individual convective elements were identified and tracked, allowing for an analysis of hydrometeor characteristics within evolving cells. Furthermore, a feature classification algorithm was applied to these datasets to compare characteristics associated with isolated convection to cells contained within organized systems. Examples of isolated cells from a range of topography during NAME revealed the presence of ZDR columns, attributed to the lofting of drops above the melting level, where subsequent freezing and growth by riming led to the production of graupel along the western slopes of the Sierra Madre Occidental (SMO) and adjacent coastal plain. Melting of large ice hydrometeors was also noted over higher terrain, leading to short-lived yet intense rainfall despite truncated warm-cloud depths compared to cells over the lower elevations. Cells embedded within mesoscale convective systems (MCSs) during NAME also displayed the combined roles of warm-rain and ice-based microphysical processes as convection organized along the terrain. In addition to enhancing precipitation along the western slopes of the SMO, melting ice contributed to the production of mesoscale outflow boundaries, which provided an additional focus mechanism for convective initiation over the lower elevations and resulted in propagation of these systems toward the coast. Intense rainfall was also observed along the Central Mountain Range (CMR) in Taiwan; however, in contrast to the systems during NAME, this enhancement occurred as MCSs moved onshore within the southwesterly flow and intercepted the CMR's steep slopes. Elevated maxima in polarimetric variables, similar to observations in convection during NAME, indicated a contribution from melting ice to rainfall at these higher elevations. Vertical profiles of ice mass, however, revealed greater amounts throughout the entire vertical depth of convection during NAME. In addition, isolated cells during TiMREX were relatively shallow compared to organized convection in both regions. Nonetheless, instantaneous rain rates were comparable during both experiments, suggesting efficient warm-rain processes within convection observed in the TiMREX radar domain and emphasizing a range of microphysical processes in these two regions. In addition, the greatest contribution to hourly accumulated rain mass in these regions was associated with deep organized systems along the western slopes, posing threats along the steep topography due to flash flooding and subsequent landslides, emphasizing the need for accurate prediction and understanding of the processes that lead to intense rainfall in these vulnerable regions.
Includes bibliographical references.
Includes bibliographical references.