Goal 1, Understanding the Earth & Sun System
Developing a fuller understanding of the complex interactions among the Earth’s atmosphere, oceans, land masses, ice masses, and biosphere; the interconnection of human activities with the Earth’s physical, chemical, and biological processes is a major focus of our national center. EOL is tasked mainly with the mission to develop innovative instrumentation and data acquisition technology and lead scientific campaigns that make such understanding possible. Even so, EOL scientists often find themselves in the thick of data analysis that contribute directly to the goal of improving our understanding of the atmosphere and earth system, specifically by investigating the interactions of the atmosphere and the broader earth system.
Stratosphere-Troposphere Analyses of Regional Transport (START-08)
EOL operated the NSF/NCAR GV from the Research Aviation Facility in Broomfield, CO in support of START-08 to study the chemical and transport characteristics of the extratropical upper tropospheric and lower stratospheric (ExUTLS) region. A total of 18 flights and 123 GV hours was flown within 6 flight weeks that covered Spring (April 15-May 15) and Summer (June 16-28) seasons.
The objective of the experiment is to use in-situ chemical, microphysical, and dynamical measurements, satellite data, and models to better understand the multi-scale dynamical processes that control the chemical composition of the ExUTLS, particularly the behavior of the extratropical tropopause as a transport boundary and on key chemical transport pathways and the related dynamical processes that couple the UT and LS.
START-08 shared the payload and flight operations with the test flights of the HIPAER Pole-to-Pole Observation of Atmosphere Tracers (pre-HIPPO) experiment. Both projects shared a similarity in payload and missions that address the science of both projects. HIAPER Pole to Pole Observations (HIPPO) begins in January 2009 and is the first comprehensive, global survey of atmospheric trace gases, covering the full troposphere in all seasons and multiple years.
This project also allowed EOL to test new Google Earth real-time flight tracking system available through the Laboratory Home Page. Weekly updates of the flight schedules were sent to members of our community and UCAR staff, and a sign-up function was made available to the general public. This real-time viewing and tracking capability was modified to allow tracking of Driftsondes launched from Hawaii during T-Parc and will eventually extend to include all of our facilities.
The Computing, Data and Software Facility provided an on-line Field Catalog to support daily operations and forecasting tasks, coordinated overall data management and will provide long-term data archival and dissemination of START-08 data and metadata to the scientific community. START-08 was another successful deployment of the new NIDAS-based ADS3 data system. The system continues to mature, and configuration and operation were the most routine yet experienced to date.
Terrain-influenced Monsoon Rainfall Experiment (TiMREX)
TiMREX, part of the Southwest Monsoon Experiment (SoWMEX) is joint U.S.-Taiwan multi-agency field program that was conducted from 15 May to 30 June 2008 in the northern South China Sea, western coastal plain and mountain slope regions of southern Taiwan to study heavy rain and flood-producing convective events and evaluate the skill of numerical weather prediction systems to forecast these complex systems. Their goal was to create better forecasting abilities and quantitatively estimate rainfall in mountainous regions prone to intense orographic precipitation events, both in Taiwan and elsewhere globally. Policy makers, government officials, and regional residents will also benefit since better weather nowcasts will provide more advanced warning of floods and landslides.
As part of TiMREX, the U.S. team, led by EOL scientist Wen-Chau Lee, deployed the NCAR/EOL S-Pol polarimetric, Doppler radar (S-Pol) for intensive observations, data assimilation and numerical modeling studies. “There are places in Taiwan that typically have heavy rainfall, but it varies from year to year and from storm to storm,” explains EOL scientist Tammy Weckwerth, one of the project’s investigators. “What we’re trying to do with TiMREX is understand the processes better so that we can better predict where that rain is going to fall.”
The larger SoWMEX will continue for the next five years with smaller experiments which will build on this year’s global effort.
Over the last several decades, the skill of numerical weather prediction is generally considered to have increased at an average rate of about one day per decade. Thus, the skill of today’s four-day forecast is equivalent to the skill of a three-day forecast of a decade earlier. The rate of improvement is even slower for the forecast variables needed most by society, such as the prediction of heavy rainfall. This relatively slow, linear rate of improvement is not sufficient to keep place with the demand for accurate weather information in the world today, where an exponentially growing world population places an ever-increasing number of people in areas at risk for weather disasters.
THORPEX Pacific Asian Regional Campaign (T-PARC)
The THORPEX Pacific Asian Regional Campaign (T-PARC) is a multi-national field campaign that studied the formation, intensification, structure change, motion, and extratropical conversion of typhoons as they move out of the tropics to improve the forecast skill of one region (Eastern Asian and the western North Pacific) and its downstream impact on the medium-range dynamics and forecast skill of another region (in particular, the eastern North Pacific and North America). It was the first systematic targeting operation in the western Pacific Ocean, comparing several methods from a variety of operational and research organizations.
The field phase of T-PARC leveraged the efforts of nine nations to address these themes, and was the first global project across the Pacific rim in which EOL played a major support role. EOL project leaders worked from an Operations Center in Monterey, California from where they managed the Driftsonde launch facility in Hawaii and an aircraft coordination center at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam. The aircraft also had forward deployment sites in Japan and Taiwan to accommodate for on-the-fly adjustments in flight plans based on storm data.
The operational challenges presented by a field campaign that spanned nine time zones as well as the international date line, were, in the words of EOL Field Project Services staff and T-PARC project manager Jim Moore, "not for the faint of heart." Of the 11 storm events that were flown during the two month campaign, four were major typhoons. To coordinate aircraft operations so they were timed properly to intersect the storms, the T-PARC operations team in Monterey used a variety of tools such as Google Earth, data from the aircraft and satellite downlinks to create near real-time displays of missions in their command center. The ability to quickly synthesize and communicate all this information was central to the success of the program, and there was major improvement here: for example, data uploads from the NRL P-3 took only 90 seconds during T-PARC as compared with the eight minutes the same task took during the Hurricane Rainband and Intensity Change Experiment (RAINEX) in 2005.
EOL staff operated the ELectra DOppler RAdar (ELDORA) and deployed 343 Dropsondes from the Naval Research Lab (NRL) P-3 aircraft, and deployed over 600 dropsondes from the NSF/NCAR C-130 aircraft. The C-130 flew over 200 hours (23 missions) during the two-month field phase and operated at its highest altitude yet - 31,000 feet - in order to get fullest range of dropsonde data possible.
EOL Driftsonde operators in Hawaii launched 13 Driftsonde gondolas that floated westward toward the weather events and deployed over 250 MIST sondes along their trajectories. T-PARC was the second deployment for the Driftsondes, the first being the THORPEX - African Monsoon Multidisciplinary Analyses (T-AMMA) in Summer of 2006. In preparation for T-PARC, major improvements were made to the dropsondes deployed from the Driftsondes, the most notable of which is the development of autonomous operation of the system through a simple web interface, including launching the sondes from the gondola. This work will have profound effects on the development of the remotely controlled instrumentation aboard research aircraft, including the HAIS instruments and the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) used for atmospheric research. A fuller explanation of this can be found in Developing New Instrumentation.
Related Links and Images
Image from GV wing-mounted camera, GISMOS
(l-r) EOL's Tammy Weckwerth, Joe VanAndel, Gordon Farquaharson, Jim Wilson and RAL's Mike Dixon look at S-Pol data in Taiwan during TiMREX
S-Pol, EOL's transportable, ground-based Doppler radar, on site in Taiwan.
T-PARC researchers were able to gather data from 11 unique storm events during the two-month campaign. Four were named typhoons, and one, Jangmi, was a "Super Typhoon" or a Category 5. (enlarge)
Launching a Driftsonde.
Overview of Driftsonde Communications used during T-PARC (see larger)
Naval Research Lab (NRL) P-3 with the ELectra DOppler RAdar (ELDORA) in Guam for T-PARC. Dropsondes were launched from this aircraft as well.
An image of Typhoon Nuri from ELDORA (enlarge) showing refractivity, wind vectors and the storm track.
(l-r) EOL's Laura Tudor and Errol Korn launching Dropsondes from the NRL P-3 during T-PARC. (more here)
This graphic (enlarge) shows the locations of the seven operations centers of the T-PARC field campaign. The campaign spanned nine time zones and the international date line.