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Statistics of convective cloud turbulence from a comprehensive turbulence retrieval method for radar observations

Feist, M. M., Westbrook, C. D. ORCID:, Clark, P. A. ORCID:, Stein, T. H. M. ORCID:, Lean, H. W. and Stirling, A. J. (2019) Statistics of convective cloud turbulence from a comprehensive turbulence retrieval method for radar observations. Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society, 145 (719). pp. 727-744. ISSN 1477-870X

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1002/qj.3462


Turbulent mixing processes are important in determining the evolution of convective clouds,and the production of convective precipitation. However, the exact nature of these impacts remains uncertain due to limited observations. Model simulations show that assumptions made in parametrizing turbulence can have a marked effect on the characteristics of simulated clouds. This leads to significant uncertainty in forecasts from convection‐permitting numerical weather prediction (NWP) models. This contribution presents a comprehensive method to retrieve turbulence using Doppler weather radar to investigate turbulence in observed clouds. This method involves isolating the turbulent component of the Doppler velocity spectrum width, expressing turbulence intensity as an eddy dissipation rate, ϵ. By applying this method throughout large datasets of observations collected over the southern United Kingdom using the (0.28° beam‐width) Chilbolton Advanced Meteorological Radar (CAMRa), statistics of convective cloud turbulence are presented. Two contrasting case days are examined: a shallow “shower” case, and a “deep convection” case, exhibiting stronger and deeper updraughts. In our observations, ϵ generally ranges from 10−3 to 10−1 m2/s3, with the largest values found within, around and above convective updraughts. Vertical profiles of ϵ suggest that turbulence is much stronger in deep convection; 95th percentile values increase with height from 0.03 to 0.1 m2/s3, compared to approximately constant values of 0.02–0.03 m2/s3 throughout the depth of shower cloud. In updraught regions on both days, the 95th percentile of ϵ has significant (p < 10−3) positive correlations with the updraught velocity, and the horizontal shear in the updraught velocity, with weaker positive correlations with updraught dimensions. The ϵ‐retrieval method presented considers a very broad range of conditions, providing a reliable framework for turbulence retrieval using high‐resolution Doppler weather radar. In applying this method across many observations, the derived turbulence statistics will form the basis for evaluating the parametrization of turbulence in NWP models.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:81215
Publisher:Royal Meteorological Society


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