34th Conference on Radar Meteorology


An Aerosol—Meteorological observatory in support of the CalWater experiment

Christopher R. Williams, CIRES/Univ. of Colorado, Boulder, CO; and K. Prather, D. Rosenfeld, and S. Cliff

Scientists from NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory (ESRL) and the Universities of California at San Diego (UCSD) and at Davis (UCD) have installed an Aerosol – Meteorological (Aerosol – Met) observatory in the central California Sierra Nevada to observe the aerosol content within individual raindrops and snowflakes. This first-ever observatory combines NOAA's expertise in observing and diagnosing the vertical structure of precipitation and its mesoscale meteorological forcing with the University of California's expertise in observing and identifying the content and size of aerosols inside the precipitation, including fingerprinting the aerosols and their origins.

It has been hypothesized in the peer reviewed literature, albeit somewhat controversially, that the amount of surface rainfall and snowpack in the California Sierra Nevada has decreased by 10 to 20 percent over the past few decades due to increased air pollution. Coordinated meteorological and aerosol measurements are needed to better isolate the impact of pollution (aerosols) on the precipitation processes from the naturally occurring meteorological processes. The CalWater experiment is sponsored by the California Energy Commission and will address the question: Does anthropogenic pollution reduce wintertime precipitation in the Sierra Nevada, thereby causing a negative impact on California's annual water supply?

The Aerosol – Met observatory has been deployed as an "early start" component of the CalWater experiment scheduled for the November 2009 - March 2010 winter season and includes the deployment of up to 3 Aerosol – Met observatories along the California Sierra Nevada and at the California Coast, as well as equipment to measure the water vapor budget in atmospheric rivers both on shore and along the coast. The primary thrust of the CalWater "early start" project this winter is to investigate the role of pollution (aerosols) on California's winter precipitation, which is a major contributor to the state's annual water supply.

The Aerosol – Met observatory was installed about half-way up the slope of the California Sierra Nevada in the American River basin (ARB) at the Sugar Pine Reservoir. Observations collected for NOAA's Hydrometeorological Testbed (HMT; see hmt.noaa.gov) along the I-80 corridor from the base to the summit of the ARB are providing the meteorological context to determine how much of the surface precipitation may be caused by pollution modifying the precipitation processes versus how much of this variability can be explained by naturally occurring atmospheric phenomena. Initial results from the early start campaign will be presented at the conference.

extended abstract  Extended Abstract (108K)

wrf recording  Recorded presentation

Session 11B, Results From Mid-Latitude Field Experiments
Thursday, 8 October 2009, 10:30 AM-12:00 PM, Room 18

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