Monday, 12 January 2004
Real Time Nowcasting with the Atmospheric Emitted Radiance Interferometer (AERI)
One of the major handicaps in forecasting short-lived mesoscale atmospheric phenomena (i.e. convective initiation) is a general lack of detailed atmospheric information on mesoscale time and space scales (< 1 hr and < 500 km, respectively). The Atmospheric Emitted Radiance Interferometer (AERI), designed by the University of Wisconsin - Madison, is an instrument well-suited to help solve this problem. The AERI consists of a skyward-pointing laser interferometer that measures downwelling radiances on a time scale of 10 min. From these radiances, thermal and moisture profiles in the planetary boundary layer can be retrieved. After a decade of development and testing, five AERI instruments are now situated in a network across Oklahoma and Kansas as part of the Department of Energy's Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) program, and are monitored in real time. The data gathered from the AERI array have generated a large number of case studies in which mesoscale meteorological phenomena have been observed in close proximity to one or more of the instrument sites. Three such case studies are presented. In each case, a mesoscale meteorological phenomenon is observed with the AERI that would not be detected with conventional, synoptic time-scale radiosonde launches. The author presents new software tools that have been developed to analyze and visualize the AERI data in real time, illustrating the AERI's potential as a valuable nowcasting tool.