Boundary Layer, Urban Meteorology and Land-Surface Processes

Ground-Based Infrared Thermodynamic Sounders: A Fresh Look at the Environments Supporting Deep Convection

William (Greg) Blumberg
OU School of Meteorology

01 May 2015, 3:00 PM

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

Current U.S. upper air observing systems suffer a debilitating deficit: they cannot observe the boundary layer accurately with high temporal and spatial resolution. Satellites, while they provide vast temporal and spatial coverage, struggle to separate the effects of radiation emitted by the near-surface atmosphere and the surface of the earth. Radiosonde packages are limited in temporal and spatial coverage, but they excel at vertical resolution. The NOAA wind profiler network is now defunct, leaving only the WSR-88D network to provide nationwide monitoring of the low-level wind environment. This deficit is a significant gap in our ability to monitor changes in what is arguably most dynamic portion of the troposphere, which drives much of our significant weather here on Earth.
Recently, organizations within the meteorological community have begun to acknowledge that this gap must be filled and are moving to provide solutions. One ground-based instrument in particular, named the Atmospheric Emitted Radiance Interferometer (AERI), can provide thermodynamic profiles within the boundary layer. Previously, retrievals of temperature and water vapor from this instrument were restricted to clear sky scenes only. Developments within the past two years have now made the AERI a strong candidate for operational use as it can now provide real-time thermodynamic profiles every 5-minutes in all but precipitating conditions. This look at the boundary layer is unprecedented and offers a whole new set of observations for researchers and operational meteorologists.
A network of AERI instruments will be deployed in the upcoming PECAN field project, which will offer a look at the spatial and temporal evolution of low-level thermodynamic profiles within environments supportive of deep convection. This opportunity provides the chance to test the AERI’s capabilities in a real-time sense and test hypotheses about how the low level thermodynamic environment evolves and supports deep convection. This talk will highlight the work done to understand the AERI’s capabilities and will discuss what these capabilities may mean for observing the convective environment. Understanding the limitations and capabilities of AERI observations will be important in understanding what both past and future networks of AERI instruments will be able to tell us about certain atmospheric environments.

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