Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 12, 9717-9769, 2012
© Author(s) 2012. This work is distributed
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Detailed flow, hydrometeor and lightning characteristics of an isolated thunderstorm during COPS
K. Schmidt1, M. Hagen1, H. Höller1, E. Richard2, and H. Volkert1
1Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR), Institut für Physik der Atmosphäre, Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany
2Laboratoire d'Aérologie, CNRS and Université de Toulouse III, Toulouse, France

Abstract. The three-hour life-cycle of the isolated thunderstorm on 15 July 2007 during the Convective and Orographically-induced Precipitation Study (COPS) is documented in detail, with a special emphasis on the rapid development and mature phases. Remote sensing techniques as 5-min rapid scans from geostationary satellites, combined velocity retrievals from up to four Doppler-radars, the polarimetric determination of hydrometeors and spatio-temporal occurrences of lightning strokes are employed to arrive at a synoptic quantification of the physical parameters of this, during the COPS period, rare event.

Inner cloud flow fields are available from radar multiple Doppler analyses, gridded on a 500 m-mesh, at four consecutive times separated by 15 min-intervals (14:35, 14:50, 15:05, 15:20; all times are in UTC). They contain horizontal winds of around 15 m s−1 and updrafts exceeding 5 m s−1, the latter collocated with lightning strokes. Reflectivity and polarimetric data indicate the existence of hail at the 2 km level around 14:40. Furthermore, polarimetric and Doppler radar variables indicate intense hydrometeor variability and cloud dynamics corresponding to an enhanced variance of the retrieved 3-D wind fields. Profiles of flow and hydrometeor statistics over the entire cloud volume provide reference data for high-resolution, episode-type numerical weather prediction runs in research mode.

The study embarks from two multi-channel time-lapse movie-loops from geostationary satellite imagery (as Supplement), which provide an intuitive distinction of six phases making up the entire life-cycle of the thunderstorm. It concludes with a triple image-loop, juxtaposing a close-up of the cloud motion as seen by Meteosat, simulated brightness temperature (as a proxy for clouds seen by the infrared satellite channel), and a perspective view on the model generated system of cloud cells. By employing the motion-geared human visual system, such multiple image loops provide a high, and as yet hardly utilised potential for a well-grounded specification of further sensitivity experiments in the modelling community.

Citation: Schmidt, K., Hagen, M., Höller, H., Richard, E., and Volkert, H.: Detailed flow, hydrometeor and lightning characteristics of an isolated thunderstorm during COPS, Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 12, 9717-9769, doi:10.5194/acpd-12-9717-2012, 2012.
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