Comparison of NUCAPS modified and unmodified soundings at 19Z on 5/22

This post is going to compare the significant differences between the modified and unmodified NUCAPS sounding near Tulsa, OK at 19Z on May 22.

First a look at the unmodified sounding.  It actually shows a small temperature inversion near the surface in the boundary layer, with a surface temperature of 75, and a surface dew point of 61. This resulted in a computed surface-based CAPE of 362 J/kg, and a mixed layer CAPE of 148 J/kg. Now let’s look at the NUCAPS sounding modified for the 19Z observed surface temp and dew point.

the modified NUCAPS soudning used the surface temp of 78 and surface dew point of 69. This caused a very large difference in the surface-based CAPE, with a value of 2277 J/kg (about 7X the unmodified).   The MLCAPE also more than doubled to 328 J/kg. Interestingly, the All Sky CAPE (which is designed to match the MLCAPE more closely then the SBCAPE) at the same time in the same area gave an estimate of  1627 J/kg (not shown). That would indicate that both the modified and unmodified versions significantly underestimated the instability, but the modified gave forecasters a much better idea of the potential based on the much higher SBCAPE.

I also noticed that the mixing process the modified NUCAPS used for the surface observation produces a rather unrealistic near surface profile. I think an improvement in the mixing scheme could improve the use of the modified NUCAPS soundings further. Despite that, the current modified does give a better indication of the convective potential in this case.