1.1 Tropical Field Programs, Especially GATE, in Historical Perspective

Thursday, 27 January 2011: 8:30 AM
4C-3 (Washington State Convention Center)
Edward Zipser, Univ. of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT

During the 1960s and 1970s, the atmospheric science community was fully engaged in planning the Global Atmospheric Research Program (GARP) and its Atlantic Tropical Experiment (GATE), the Monsoon Experiment (MONEX) and the First GARP Global Experiment (FGGE). These programs had their intellectual roots in the famous "Charney Report", which proclaimed that the era of the 2-week forecast was within our reach. That is, if we could solve the nasty little problem of tropical convection and how to parameterize it, which became the motivation for GATE. But the real intellectual achievement that had more influence on the planning for GATE, and what was accomplished in the field, came from a revolutionary paper authored by Yanai, Esbensen, and Chu, and shortly thereafter, Arakawa and Schubert. Jule Charney never tired of explaining to anyone who would listen how we should design our field programs around these new paradigms. If we had taken Charney literally, we might not have accomplished as much as we did, because some scientists were so enthralled with the notion proposed by these papers that all we needed to do was to measure along a line integral, calculate Q1 and Q2, and deduce the net effect of deep convection, that we could greatly simplify the aircraft program. Fortunately, Yanai himself helped us see that the very presence of mesoscale organization confounded the simple notions of scale separation that might have made the parameterization problem more tractable. This talk outlines some of the ways in which the inconvenient aspects of the multi-scale structure of deep convection have been handled in a long series of field programs, some of the lessons that have been learned, and some of the issues that remain for the next generation.
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