Examining In-Cloud Convective Turbulence in Relation to Total Lightning and the 3D Wind Field of Severe Thunderstorms

Tuesday, 16 December 2014: 5:30 PM
Sarah A. Al-Momar1, Wiebke Deierling2, John K Williams2 and Eric G Hoffman1, (1)Plymouth State University, Plymouth, NH, United States, (2)National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO, United States
Convectively induced turbulence (CIT) is commonly listed as a cause or factor in weather-related commercial aviation accidents. In-cloud CIT is generated in part by shears between convective updrafts and downdrafts. Total lightning is also dependent on a robust updraft and the resulting storm electrification. The relationship between total lightning and turbulence could prove useful in operational aviation settings with the use of future measurements from the geostationary lightning mapper (GLM) onboard the GOES-R satellite. Providing nearly hemispheric coverage of total lightning, the GLM could help identify CIT in otherwise data-sparse locations.

For a severe thunderstorm case on 7 June 2012 in northeast Colorado, in-cloud eddy dissipation rate estimates from the NCAR/NEXRAD Turbulence Detection Algorithm were compared with cloud electrification data from the Colorado Lightning Mapping Array and radar products from the Denver, Colorado WSR-88D. These comparisons showed that high concentrations of very high frequency (VHF) source densities emitted by lightning occurred near and downstream of the storm’s convective core. Severe turbulence was also shown to occur near this area, extending near the melting level of the storm and spreading upward and outward. Additionally, increases/decreases in VHF sources and turbulence volumes occurred within a few minutes of each other; although, light turbulence was shown to increase near one storm’s dissipation. This may be due to increased shear from the now downdraft dominate storm. The 3D wind field from this case, obtained by either a dual-Doppler or a Variational Doppler Radar Assimilation System (VDRAS) analysis, will also be examined to further study the relationships between total lightning and thunderstorm kinematics. If these results prove to be robust, lightning may serve as a strong indicator of the location of moderate or greater turbulence.