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Master's Defense

Department of Atmospheric Science

Tues., Apr. 17, 3:10 pm, EN6085

Radar Kinematic Information as Surrogate for Isentropes in Stratiform Precipitation Systems

Jordan Christian

University of Wyoming


This study illustrates that dual-Doppler-derived horizontal vorticity in stratiform (laminar) flow is structured in long, thin striations. The reason this has not been documented before is that scanning ground-based radars have inadequate vertical resolution, deteriorating with range. Here we use data from the Wyoming Cloud Radar, which has a fine, range-independent vertical resolution. A comparison of the radar-derived horizontal vorticity field with model output of isentropes in vertical transects in the comma head of two frontal disturbances suggests that the horizontal vorticity layers describe material surfaces. Model output itself further confirms the alignment of isentropes with vorticity in vertical transects. Thus Doppler-radar-derived vorticity (a kinematic conserved variable) may serve as a suitable proxy for thermodynamic conserved variables such as equivalent potential temperature in stratiform precipitation. Furthermore, the presence of vorticity striations in vertical transects can be used as a marker for laminar flow, and their persistence as an indicator of limited dispersion in such flow. These results are then applied to two cases of stratiform precipitation over orography. Horizontal vorticity from observations is used to reveal the thermodynamic structure within these precipitation systems, as well as orographically-induced flow features. This demonstrates that WCR-derived horizontal vorticity can be used as a method of model verification.

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