Storm-relative helicity revealed from polarimetric radar measurements

Matthew R. Kumjian, Alexander V. Ryzkhov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

49 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The dual-polarization radar variables are especially sensitive to the microphysical processes of melting and size sorting of precipitation particles. In deep convective storms, polarimetric measurements of such processes can provide information about the airflow in and around the storm that may be used to elucidate storm behavior and evolution. Size sorting mechanisms include differential sedimentation, vertical transport, strong rotation, and wind shear. In particular, winds that veer with increasing height typical of supercell environments cause size sorting that is manifested as an enhancement of differential reflectivity (ZDR) along the right or inflow edge of the forward-flank downdraft precipitation echo, which has been called the ZDR arc signature. In some cases, this shear profile can be augmented by the storm inflow. It is argued that the magnitude of this enhancement is related to the low-level storm-relative environmental helicity (SRH) in the storm inflow. To test this hypothesis, a simple numerical model is constructed that calculates trajectories for raindrops based on their individual sizes, which allows size sorting to occur. The modeling results indicate a strong positive correlation between the maximum ZDR in the arc signature and the low-level SRH, regardless of the initial drop size distribution aloft. Additional observational evidence in support of the conceptual model is presented. Potential changes in the ZDR arc signature as the supercell evolves and the low-level mesocyclone occludes are described.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)667-685
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of the Atmospheric Sciences
Volume66
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 10 2009

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radar
sorting
supercell
inflow
raindrop
wind shear
reflectivity
airflow
polarization
melting
trajectory
sedimentation
modeling

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science

Cite this

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abstract = "The dual-polarization radar variables are especially sensitive to the microphysical processes of melting and size sorting of precipitation particles. In deep convective storms, polarimetric measurements of such processes can provide information about the airflow in and around the storm that may be used to elucidate storm behavior and evolution. Size sorting mechanisms include differential sedimentation, vertical transport, strong rotation, and wind shear. In particular, winds that veer with increasing height typical of supercell environments cause size sorting that is manifested as an enhancement of differential reflectivity (ZDR) along the right or inflow edge of the forward-flank downdraft precipitation echo, which has been called the ZDR arc signature. In some cases, this shear profile can be augmented by the storm inflow. It is argued that the magnitude of this enhancement is related to the low-level storm-relative environmental helicity (SRH) in the storm inflow. To test this hypothesis, a simple numerical model is constructed that calculates trajectories for raindrops based on their individual sizes, which allows size sorting to occur. The modeling results indicate a strong positive correlation between the maximum ZDR in the arc signature and the low-level SRH, regardless of the initial drop size distribution aloft. Additional observational evidence in support of the conceptual model is presented. Potential changes in the ZDR arc signature as the supercell evolves and the low-level mesocyclone occludes are described.",
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Storm-relative helicity revealed from polarimetric radar measurements. / Kumjian, Matthew R.; Ryzkhov, Alexander V.

In: Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences, Vol. 66, No. 3, 10.09.2009, p. 667-685.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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