288 A Comparison of Atmospheric Profilers and Environmental Soundings in Complex Terrain during the 2017 VORTEX-SE Field Campaign

Thursday, 31 August 2017
Zurich DEFG (Swissotel Chicago)
Ryan Wade, Univ. of Alabama, Huntsville, AL; and T. A. Murphy, D. D. Turner, T. Lee, M. Buban, P. Pangle, A. W. Lyza, and K. R. Knupp

The Southeastern United States represents a geographic maximum in tornado frequency that may locally approach the well-known maximum in the U.S. Great Plains. Advances in our understanding of tornado formation have occurred as a result of the original Verification of the Origins of Rotation in Tornadoes Experiment (“VORTEX”, 1994-95) and subsequent VORTEX2 (2009-10) field campaigns. However, there are many environmental conditions and land surface factors that are more common in the SE U.S. and may be more applicable to the boundary layer storm environments that produce tornadoes in the SE. To gain a better understanding of the severe storms environment in this region, focused data collection during Intensive Observation Periods (IOPs) occurred during Spring 2016 and Spring 2017 as part of the VORTEX-SE field campaign. There remain a number of links missing from the chain of physical processes that explains environmental and convective evolution in the SE, especially within complex terrain. To that end, collaborative sounding teams have launched numerous coordinated soundings co-located with atmospheric radar, lidar, sodar, and radiometer profilers in the complex terrain of north Alabama and the Cumberland Plateau. Preliminary sounding and profiler observations have shown increases in 0-1 km storm-relative helicity of 40 m2/s2 to 200 m2/s2 under southerly flow conditions on top of Cumberland Plateau versus down in the Tennessee Valley (200-400m elevation change) across only 20-30 km horizontal distances. A comparison of environmental soundings from the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH), the University of Louisiana at Monroe (ULM), and the NOAA Atmospheric Turbulence & Diffusion Division to thermodynamic and kinematic retrievals from the NOAA NSSL Collaborative Lower Atmospheric Mobile Profiling System (CLAMPS-2), UAH Mobile Integrated Profiling System (MIPS), UAH Rapidly Deployable Profiling System (RaDAPS), and UAH Mobile Doppler Lidar & Sounding System (MoDLS) will be discussed. Additionally, the boundary layer kinematic and thermodynamic evolution from down in the Tennessee Valley will be compared to the environmental evolution on top of the Cumberland Plateau.
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