On the Use of Radar Echo from Chaff to Study Entrainment in Stratocumulus Topped Marine Boundary Layers

Friday, 18 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Virendra P Ghate, Argonne National Laboratory, Argonne, IL, United States, Bruce A Albrecht, University of Miami, Miami, FL, United States, Haflidi Jonsson, Naval Postgraduate School, CIRPAS, Monterey, CA, United States and Ivan PopStefanija, ProSensing Inc., Amherst, MA, United States
Marine stratocumulus clouds persist year-round and cover vast areas of the Eastern subtropical oceans. As these clouds have significantly higher albedo than the background sea surface and have warmer cloud top temperatures, they have a net cooling effect on the sea surface and the atmosphere. Hence, these clouds have a huge impact on the Earth’s radiation budget and need to be accurately represented in Global Climate Models (GCM) aimed at predicting the future climate and energy needs. The entrainment occurring near the stratocumulus cloud top is one of the key factors influencing the stratocumulus cloud cover and lifetime. In this study, we have used the observations made during the Stratocumulus Entrainment and Precipitation Studies (SEPS) field campaign to quantify and characterize the entrainment in stratocumulus clouds. The data collected by the Compact Frequency Modulated Continuous Wave (CFMCW) W-band Doppler radar, and the in-situ aerosol, cloud, and precipitation size distribution measuring instruments onboard the Center for Interdisciplinary Remotely Piloted Aircraft Studies (CIRPAS)’s Twin Otter research aircraft formed the basis of this study. We have also used the data collected by the ground-based scanning X-band phased array radar (abbreviated as MWR-05XP) in this study. Finely cut radar chaff fibers corresponding to half the wavelength of the two radars were introduced ~300 m above a uniform stratocumulus cloud layer in a three-line formation on four separate days. The spatial and temporal evolution of the chaff as it dispersed in the free troposphere was tracked for more than two hours by the MWR-05XP that made sector scans every 20 seconds at a 75 m range resolution. The fine-scale evolution of the chaff needles and that of the cloud layer was observed and characterized by the CFMCW radar operating at a 5 m and 3 Hz resolution and by the other instruments onboard the aircraft. The relative dispersion rate of the chaff needles in the free troposphere and in the cloud layer together with the cloud top entrainment rates will be retrieved using these observations. We will present our results of entrainment rate retrievals in the context of atmospheric conditions for the four days and also discuss the merits and shortcomings of the technique.