NSSL showcases research at OU GIS Day

NSSL’s Ami Arthur visits with a student at the first OU GIS Day.

NSSL hosted a booth at the OU GIS Day event at the National Weather Center in Norman, Okla. on November 14, 2012.  GIS Day is celebrated internationally to promote awareness of geospatial science and technology.  The OU GIS Day event was the first of its kind at the university, and was an opportunity for nearly two dozen organizations to showcase their work in geographical information systems, global positioning systems, and remote sensing.  Participation was open to K-12/undergraduate/graduate students, academia and researchers, private industry, non-governmental organizations, local/state/federal agencies, and the public.

NSSL’s booth featured displays of cloud climatology research using high-resolution MODIS satellite data.  Researchers also showed images of NSSL’s On Demand system that plots, using Google Earth, swaths of hail and tracks of circulations detected by radar.  Also displayed were a poster providing information about spatial datasets developed by and housed at NSSL to support NWS flash-flood operations, and a poster showing the results of a study relating the locations of reported flash-flood impacts to selected exposure factors.  In addition, the recently-published book, Automating the Analysis of Spatial Grids by NSSL’s Dr. Lakshmanan, was available for viewing at the booth.

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CI-FLOW total water level system prepared for test by Hurricane Sandy

Researchers with the Coastal and Inland Flooding Observation and Warning (CI-FLOW) project are preparing for Hurricane Sandy to test their total water level system in North Carolina this weekend. The CI-FLOW system captures the complex interaction between rainfall, river flows, waves, tides and storm surge, and how they impact water levels in the Tar-Pamlico and Neuse Rivers and the Pamlico Sound in North Carolina.

CI-FLOW collects data from a computing system that combines radar and rain gauge information to create estimates of rainfall.  This information is passed on to water quantity models that simulate freshwater flows from the headwaters of the basins into the rivers; taking into account soil type, slope of the land and vegetation patterns.  Finally, water flow data is passed from river models to a coastal circulation and storm surge model that provides simulations of waves, tides and storm surge.

National Weather Service forecasters will have access to CI-FLOW during Hurricane Sandy to help them evaluate the system for application in the flood and flash flood warning process.

The CI-FLOW project is motivated by NOAA’s critical forecast need for detailed water level predictions in coastal areas and has a vision to transition CI-FLOW research findings and technologies to other U.S. coastal watersheds.

The NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory with support from the NOAA National Sea Grant Office leads the unique interdisciplinary team including the North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas Sea Grant Programs, University of Oklahoma, Renaissance Computing Institute (RENCI), University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Seahorse Consulting, NWS Forecast Offices in Raleigh, and Newport/Morehead City, NWS Southeast River Forecast Center, NOAA’s Coastal Services Center, NOAA in the Carolinas, NOAA Southeast and Caribbean Regional Team (SECART), NOAA-Integrated Ocean Observing System, Department of Homeland Security, Center of Excellence-Natural Disasters, Coastal Infrastructure and Emergency Management, Centers for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence SouthEast, Coast Survey Development Laboratory and NWS Office of Hydrologic Development.

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NSSL gears up for the National Weather Festival

Getting ready to launch a balloon at the National Weather Festival

The free, public and very popular National Weather Festival will be held Saturday, November 3 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the National Weather Center. More than 4,500 people attended the event in 2011.

The unique event features hourly weather balloon launches, children’s activities, storm research vehicle displays, amateur radio demonstrations and weather related information and products.

Visitors will be allowed to tour some areas of the National Weather Center’s premier facilities, including National Weather Service Forecast operations areas. Oklahoma-based emergency response organizations will display vehicles and equipment used to respond to disasters such as tornadoes and wildfires.

About 50 storm chasing vehicles have been entered in the Storm Chaser Car Show to be eligible for prizes in four divisions: Storm Spotter, Student/Researcher, Professional, and TV Chaser.

NOAA Weather Partners and the University of Oklahoma host the National Weather Festival. Sponsors of the event include the Norman Chamber of Commerce with support from dozens of local weather and business organizations.

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Lower Atmospheric Boundary Layer Experiment

One of the Doppler Lidars at the Southern Great Plains research site.

A NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL) scientist is leading an experiment to collect a comprehensive dataset on vertical turbulence and thermodynamic profiles in a portion of the lower atmosphere known as the boundary layer. A number of instruments deployed in north central Oklahoma will collect data for six weeks during the Lower Atmospheric Boundary Layer Experiment (LABLE).

The unique dataset will help researchers understand turbulent processes and thus improve our ability to reproduce turbulence more accurately in numerical weather models that attempt to simulate the atmosphere.

Turbulence redistributes energy and mass in the atmosphere, and can be influenced by different surface types, horizontal wind speed and direction, and the vertical temperature structure of the atmosphere. However, there have been relatively few studies that have investigated how the vertical turbulence profile changes over short horizontal distances due to these variables.  Data collected during LABLE will also be used to derive water vapor fluxes at the top of the boundary layer, and to compare vertical motions observed by different instruments.

LABLE leverages the strong observing infrastructure currently available from the Department of Energy’s Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Southern Great Plains (SGP) site in north-central Oklahoma.  In addition to the instruments already in place at SGP, NSSL and scientists from the University of Oklahoma deployed two Doppler lidars, a sodar, and a laser scintillometer to measure turbulence, winds, thermodynamic structure and other microphysical properties.

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Addition to weather model helps forecast precip types more accurately

An NSSL microphysics scheme that will help forecast six different types of precipitation more accurately was included in the most recent update of the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model. The model is used by operational meteorologists and refined by atmospheric researchers to help forecast thunderstorms and other smaller scale weather with greater realism.

The NSSL scheme predicts the development of water and ice particles in clouds. Like other schemes, it categorizes particles into broad classes of liquid (small cloud droplets or larger rain drops) and ice (small crystals, snow particles, graupel, and hail). Both the amount of mass and the number of particles are tracked, so that the average particle size is predicted. The new NSSL scheme adds a prediction of graupel particle density.

Graupel is a type of ice particle that has a lot of small water drops frozen onto it (rime ice), and can vary in widely in density. Graupel that starts as a freezing rain drop will have higher density than graupel that starts as a rimed ice crystal. Typical schemes have a constant density for graupel and a constant fall speed relationship. Predicting the density, however, allows a much greater range of fall speeds and can result in a more realistic distribution of graupel in a storm. This then affects where the rain (melted graupel) falls to ground, and the melting and evaporation cool the air. The cold air outflow is important for storm motion, longevity, and even severity.

NSSL’s Ted Mansell was instrumental in getting the scheme into NCAR WRF and plans to test it in the NOAA Hazardous Weather Testbed during the 2013 Spring Experiment.

Addition to weather model helps forecast precip types more accurately

An NSSL microphysics scheme that will help forecast six different types of precipitation more accurately was included in the most recent update of the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model. The model is used by operational meteorologists and refined by atmospheric researchers to help forecast thunderstorms and other smaller scale weather with greater realism.

The NSSL scheme predicts the development of water and ice particles in clouds. Like other schemes, it categorizes particles into broad classes of liquid (small cloud droplets or larger rain drops) and ice (small crystals, snow particles, graupel, and hail). Both the amount of mass and the number of particles are tracked, so that the average particle size is predicted. The new NSSL scheme adds a prediction of graupel particle density.

Graupel is a type of ice particle that has a lot of small water drops frozen onto it (rime ice), and can vary in widely in density. Graupel that starts as a freezing rain drop will have higher density than graupel that starts as a rimed ice crystal. Typical schemes have a constant density for graupel and a constant fall speed relationship. Predicting the density, however, allows a much greater range of fall speeds and can result in a more realistic distribution of graupel in a storm. This then affects where the rain (melted graupel) falls to ground, and the melting and evaporation cool the air. The cold air outflow is important for storm motion, longevity, and even severity.

NSSL’s Ted Mansell was instrumental in getting the scheme into NCAR WRF and plans to test it in the NOAA Hazardous Weather Testbed during the 2013 Spring Experiment.

Addition to weather model helps forecast precip types more accurately

An NSSL microphysics scheme that will help forecast six different types of precipitation more accurately was included in the most recent update of the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model. The model is used by operational meteorologists and refined by atmospheric researchers to help forecast thunderstorms and other smaller scale weather with greater realism.

The NSSL scheme predicts the development of water and ice particles in clouds. Like other schemes, it categorizes particles into broad classes of liquid (small cloud droplets or larger rain drops) and ice (small crystals, snow particles, graupel, and hail). Both the amount of mass and the number of particles are tracked, so that the average particle size is predicted. The new NSSL scheme adds a prediction of graupel particle density.

Graupel is a type of ice particle that has a lot of small water drops frozen onto it (rime ice), and can vary in widely in density. Graupel that starts as a freezing rain drop will have higher density than graupel that starts as a rimed ice crystal. Typical schemes have a constant density for graupel and a constant fall speed relationship. Predicting the density, however, allows a much greater range of fall speeds and can result in a more realistic distribution of graupel in a storm. This then affects where the rain (melted graupel) falls to ground, and the melting and evaporation cool the air. The cold air outflow is important for storm motion, longevity, and even severity.

NSSL’s Ted Mansell was instrumental in getting the scheme into NCAR WRF and plans to test it in the NOAA Hazardous Weather Testbed during the 2013 Spring Experiment.

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