25th Conference on Hurricanes and Tropical Meteorology

Monday, 29 April 2002: 2:00 PM
Ship radar observations of a developing tropical cyclone in the east Pacific
Robert Cifelli, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO; and W. A. Petersen, D. J. Boccippio, C. W. Fairall, and S. A. Rutledge
Poster PDF (496.2 kB)
During the recently completed East Pacific Investigation of Climate Processes in the Coupled Ocean-Atmosphere System (EPIC) field program, the NOAA research vessel Ronald H. Brown (RHB) was deployed in the east Pacific Inter Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) for approximately 3 weeks near 10 N, 95 W. One of the principal objectives of the EPIC-ITCZ program was to observe the modulation of convection by synoptic-scale easterly waves and the air-sea coupling process in this poorly sampled region of the east Pacific. Data from the experiment will be used as validation to improve forecast models.

The RHB carried a variety of platforms during EPIC to sample atmospheric and oceanic phenomena, including a scanning C-band Doppler radar, radiation flux instrumentation, air-sea flux system, Doppler lidar, 35 GHz cloud radar, UHF wind profiler, sea surface temperature (SST) sensors, as well as standard surface meteorological instrumentation and a suite of rain gauges. This presentation will focus on the analysis of C-band radar data that was collected on 10 September, 2001 as the ship passed through an easterly wave which later developed into hurricane Ivo.

The ship captured approximately 12 hours of convection associated with the tropical disturbance. During this period, the domain sampled by the radar (approximately 71,000 km2) contained a significant number of echo features. Specifically, the fraction of the domain containing radar echo above 10 dBZ reached 80% for over 2 hours and remained near 60% for a continuous six hour period. Animation of radar images showed distinct rotation in echo features associated with the easterly wave passage. Despite an approximate 4 C drop in surface air temperature and sustained winds approaching 20 m s-1, the SST remained nearly constant throughout the observation period (~29.5 C). Peak values of latent and sensible heat flux exceeded 400 and 100 W m-2,, respectively. The radar documented the change in precipitation vertical structure as the ship passed through regions of significant convection with echo tops approaching 14 km and 30 dBZ echo tops extending to near 9 km embedded in regions that were predominantly stratiform in nature. Single Doppler retrievals (Extended Velocity Azimuth Display) were conducted continuously at 10-minute resolution for approximately 4 hours in the latter part of the observation period, and documented the transition from convection (low-level convergence, upper level divergence) to stratiform (mid-level convergence sandwiched between upper and lower level divergence) kinematic structure.

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