32nd Conference on Broadcast Meteorology/31st Conference on Radar Meteorology/Fifth Conference on Coastal Atmospheric and Oceanic Prediction and Processes

Friday, 8 August 2003: 9:10 AM
Meteorological And Oceanic Instrumentation At Spaceport Florida—Opportunities For Coastal Research
William P. Roeder, U.S. Air Force/45th Weather Squadron, Patrick AFB, FL; and D. L. Hajek, F. C. Flinn, G. A. Maul, and M. E. Fitzpatrick
Poster PDF (649.9 kB)
The east central coast of Florida has a collection of unique and dense meteorological and oceanographic sensors. Data from these instruments are routinely saved and thus represent a special resource for coastal atmospheric and oceanic research. This is especially true for thunderstorm prediction and convective processes, since central Florida is ‘Lightning Alley’ in the U.S. This is an area especially rich in atmospheric boundary layer interactions and subsequent thunderstorm formation during the summer. These boundaries include: the east coast sea breeze and west coast sea breeze fronts, the local Indian and Banana River breeze fronts, convective outflows, horizontal convective rolls, the Okeechobee lake breeze, geographically induced frictional convergence lines, washed out fronts and shear lines, and subtle convergences driven by inhomogeneous soil moisture and cloud shadows. Likewise, the nearby coastal waters are dynamically complex. The Gulf Stream flows nearby. It meanders, changing its offshore distance by as much as 50 kilometers and forming numerous eddies. The Gulf Stream can cause large sea-surface temperature gradients and large air-sea temperature differences that can vary in complex patterns over space and time, and have large meteorological and biological impacts. Mesoscale Coupled Land-Air-Sea System (M-CLASS) modeling has been proposed as necessary to improve coastal forecasts, both in the ocean and the atmosphere.

The meteorological sensors supporting operations at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and Kennedy Space Center are perhaps the most unique and dense suite of operational weather sensors in operational meteorology. These sensors include: 44 weather towers distributed over a 30 x 40 Km area, five 915 MHz boundary layer wind and virtual temperature profilers, a 50 MHz tropospheric profiler, local weather balloons, a 3-D lightning detector, a cloud-ground lightning detector, a network of 31 surface electric field mills with rain gauges, four surface observation sites, two weather radars (5 cm modified WSR-74C/IRIS at Patrick AFB, and 10 cm WSR-88D at National Weather Service Melbourne), and a GPS-Precipitable Water sensor operated by the Cape Canaveral Coast Guard. In addition, the Florida Institute of Technology operates some meteorological and oceanographic sensors. These sensors are located about 25 miles south of Spaceport Florida and include an automated weather station (temperature, dew point, wind, and surface pressure), a GPS-Precipitable Water sensor, a tide gauge, a wave gauge providing directional spectrum, a sky camera, and research devices from which weather related data can be inferred such as solar panels, irradiance meter, wind turbines, etc. As with the Spaceport Florida sensors, most of the Florida Institute of Technology sensors operate continuously; the data are routinely saved and are available to outside researchers. Finally, the National Data Buoy Center operates three nearby data buoys and three nearby Coastal-Marine Automated Network (C-MAN) stations.

This paper will discuss the special meteorological and oceanographic sensors available to support coastal research around the east central coast of Florida. The authors hope this information will help coastal researchers and will lead to collaborative mutually beneficial operational research.

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