9.4 Assessing Deep Convection Initiation in a Mountain-Valley System Using Unmanned Aircraft System Observations

Wednesday, 15 January 2020: 11:15 AM
203 (Boston Convention and Exhibition Center)
Alex Erwin, Univ. of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE; and A. Houston

Forecasts of the timing and location of deep convection are inadequate, as are scientists' understanding of the dominant controlling mechanisms. The Lower Atmospheric Process Studies at Elevation--a Remotely-piloted Aircraft Team Experiment (LAPSE-RATE) field campaign took place in the San Luis Valley of Colorado during July 2018. The campaign resulted in a robust dataset, collected by a network of remotely-piloted aircraft in a unique geographic setting, which is used to examine the impact of terrain and land surface heterogeneity on convection initiation. During the two convection initiation-focused intensive operation periods of LAPSE-RATE, convection developed over the mountains first, produced an outflow boundary that moved into the San Luis Valley and subsequently played a role in convection initiation in the San Luis Valley. The objective of the research to be presented is to determine if mesoscale thermodynamic and kinematic "hot spots" exist and if these correspond to the actual location of convection initiation. The existence of coherent mesoscale circulations, e.g., non-classical mesoscale circulations owing to land surface heterogeneity, will also be sought. This research has the potential to highlight the value of dense networks of profiling unmanned aircraft systems for forecasting the timing and location of convection initiation.
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