Boundary Layer, Urban Meteorology and Land-Surface Processes

Towards Understanding the Capabilities of High-Temporal Resolution Soundings in Convective Environments

William G. Blumberg

School of Meteorology

01 April 2016, 2:00 PM

National Weather Center, Room 5600
120 David L. Boren Blvd.
University of Oklahoma
Norman, OK

Since the birth of meteorology, instruments have continually evolved to observe the atmosphere at finer spatial and temporal scales. As a result, most observing systems used now operate on temporal scales of on the order of minutes. However, one particular observation type has lagged in its development: tropospheric thermodynamic profiles. Instead of a resolution on the order of minutes, these observations still occur on the order of hours. Although meteorologists have developed ways to extract a wealth of information out of a single radiosonde, the atmosphere is still vastly under sampled in the time dimension.

This under sampling of the troposphere is especially damning within the atmospheric boundary layer (ABL). The ABL is a rapidly evolving environment that acts as a source of air that fuels deep convection. Environments that support deep convection can be observed through instruments such as the Atmospheric Emitted Radiance Interferometer (AERI). The AERI is a passive, ground-based remote sensor that provides information about the thermodynamic profile within the lowest 3 km of the troposphere. Relative to radiosondes, the AERI collects samples at an extremely high temporal resolution (e.g. every 30-seconds). Networks of these instruments offer an opportunity to move the science of deep convection in a new direction by offering a new observation-based method to explore how spatial and temporal variations in the ABL affect storm development and evolution.

Don’t let the specs of the AERI fool you into using it blindly. Although the data may look like it comes from a radiosonde, it is important to consider that like radiosondes, the AERI has its own unique set of uncertainties. As a largely unknown instrument, the AERI does not benefit from the same level of trust radiosondes do. Therefore, extensive analysis of its capabilities compared to radiosondes must be made before applying the AERI to deep-convection problems. This presentation will use several co-located AERI-radiosonde datasets to explore the AERI’s capabilities in convective environments relative to radiosondes. This work aims to establish trust in the information the AERI offers.

Boundary Layer, Urban Meteorology and Land-Surface Processes Seminar Series website