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Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 12, issue 15
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 12, 6679-6698, 2012
© Author(s) 2012. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 12, 6679-6698, 2012
© Author(s) 2012. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 01 Aug 2012

Research article | 01 Aug 2012

Detailed flow, hydrometeor and lightning characteristics of an isolated thunderstorm during COPS

K. Schmidt1, M. Hagen1, H. Höller1, E. Richard2, and H. Volkert1 K. Schmidt et al.
  • 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 quantification of the physical parameters of this, during the COPS period, singular event.

Inner cloud flow fields are available from radar multiple Doppler analyses at four consecutive times separated by 15 min-intervals. 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 turbulence 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 numerical weather prediction runs in research mode.

The study embarks from two movie-loops of 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. The simulation suggests that several updrafts fed from a low level convergence line eventually removed the convective inhibition and set deep convection in motion. A shear line in the radial velocity relative to the Feldberg radar site shows good agreement beween observation and simulation, whereas the onset location of deep convection exhibits a horizontal discrepancy of 15 km. A quantitative schematic of the isolated thunderstorm synthesizes all retrieved characteristics.

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