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Title: A Case Study of Cloud-Top Kelvin–Helmholtz Instability Waves near the Dendritic Growth Zone

Kelvin–Helmholtz instability (KH) waves have been broadly shown to affect the growth of hydrometeors within a region of falling precipitation, but formation and growth from KH waves at cloud top needs further attention. Here, we present detailed observations of cloud-top KH waves that produced a snow plume that extended to the surface. Airborne transects of cloud radar aligned with range height indicator scans from ground-based precipitation radar track the progression and intensity of the KH wave kinetics and precipitation. In situ cloud probes and surface disdrometer measurements are used to quantify the impact of the snow plume on the composition of an underlying supercooled liquid water (SLW) cloud and the snowfall observed at the surface. KH wavelengths of 1.5 km consisted of ∼750-m-wide up- and downdrafts. A distinct fluctus region appeared as a wave-breaking cloud top where the fastest updraft was observed to exceed 5 m s−1. Relatively weaker updrafts of 0.5–1.5 m s−1beneath the fluctus and partially overlapping the dendritic growth zone were associated with steep gradients in reflectivity of −5 to 20 dBZein as little as 500-m depths due to rapid growth of pristine planar ice crystals. The falling snow removed ∼80% of the SLW content from the underlying cloud and led to a twofold increase in surface liquid equivalent snowfall rate from 0.6 to 1.3 mm h−1. This paper presents the first known study of cloud-top KH waves producing snowfall with observations of increased snowfall rates at the surface.

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Award ID(s):
2015829 2016077
Author(s) / Creator(s):
 ;  ;  ;  
Publisher / Repository:
American Meteorological Society
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences
Page Range / eLocation ID:
p. 531-549
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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