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  1. Abstract Airborne vertically profiling Doppler radar data and output from a ∼1-km-grid-resolution numerical simulation are used to examine how relatively small-scale terrain ridges (∼10–25 km apart and ∼0.5–1.0 km above the surrounding valleys) impact cross-mountain flow, cloud processes, and surface precipitation in deep stratiform precipitation systems. The radar data were collected along fixed flight tracks aligned with the wind, about 100 km long between the Snake River Plain and the Idaho Central Mountains, as part of the 2017 Seeded and Natural Orographic Wintertime clouds: the Idaho Experiment (SNOWIE). Data from repeat flight legs are composited in order to suppress transient features and retain the effect of the underlying terrain. Simulations closely match observed series of terrain-driven deep gravity waves, although the simulated wave amplitude is slightly exaggerated. The deep waves produce pockets of supercooled liquid water in the otherwise ice-dominated clouds (confirmed by flight-level observations and the model) and distort radar-derived hydrometeor trajectories. Snow particles aloft encounter several wave updrafts and downdrafts before reaching the ground. No significant wavelike modulation of radar reflectivity or model ice water content occurs. The model does indicate substantial localized precipitation enhancement (1.8–3.0 times higher than the mean) peaking just downwind of individual ridges, especially those ridges with the most intense wave updrafts, on account of shallow pockets of high liquid water content on the upwind side, leading to the growth of snow and graupel, falling out mostly downwind of the crest. Radar reflectivity values near the surface are complicated by snowmelt, but suggest a more modest enhancement downwind of individual ridges. Significance Statement Mountains in the midlatitude belt and elsewhere receive more precipitation than the surrounding lowlands. The mountain terrain often is complex, and it remains unclear exactly where this precipitation enhancement occurs, because weather radars are challenged by beam blockage and the gauge network is too sparse to capture the precipitation heterogeneity over complex terrain. This study uses airborne profiling radar and high-resolution numerical simulations for four winter storms over a series of ridges in Idaho. One key finding is that while instantaneous airborne radar transects of the cross-mountain flow, vertical drafts, and reflectivity contain much transient small-scale information, time-averaged transects look very much like the model transects. The model indicates substantial surface precipitation enhancement over terrain, peaking over and just downwind of individual ridges. Radar observations suggest less enhancement, but the radar-based assessment is uncertain. The second key conclusion is that, even though orographic gravity waves are felt all the way up into the upper troposphere, the orographic precipitation enhancement is due to processes very close to the terrain. 
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  2. Abstract

    Recent studies from the Seeded and Natural Orographic Wintertime Clouds: The Idaho Experiment (SNOWIE) demonstrated definitive radar evidence of seeding signatures in winter orographic clouds during three intensive operation periods (IOPs) where the background signal from natural precipitation was weak and a radar signal attributable to seeding could be identified as traceable seeding lines. Except for the three IOPs where seeding was detected, background natural snowfall was present during seeding operations and no clear seeding signatures were detected. This paper provides a quantitative analysis to assess if orographic cloud seeding effects are detectable using radar when background precipitation is present. We show that a 5-dB change in equivalent reflectivity factorZeis required to stand out against background naturalZevariability. This analysis considers four radar wavelengths, a range of background ice water contents (IWC) from 0.012 to 1.214 g m−3, and additional IWC introduced by seeding ranging from 0.012 to 0.486 g m−3. The upper-limit values of seeded IWC are based on measurements of IWC from the Nevzorov probe employed on the University of Wyoming King Air aircraft during SNOWIE. This analysis implies that seeding effects will be undetectable using radar within background snowfall unless the background IWC is small, and the seeding effects are large. It therefore remains uncertain whether seeding had no effect on cloud microstructure, and therefore produced no signature on radar, or whether seeding did have an effect, but that effect was undetectable against the background reflectivity associated with naturally produced precipitation.

    Significance Statement

    Operational glaciogenic seeding programs targeting wintertime orographic clouds are funded by a range of stakeholders to increase snowpack. Glaciogenic seeding signatures have been observed by radar when natural background snowfall is weak but never when heavy background precipitation was present. This analysis quantitatively shows that seeding effects will be undetectable using radar reflectivity under conditions of background snowfall unless the background snowfall is weak, and the seeding effects are large. It therefore remains uncertain whether seeding had no effect on cloud microstructure, and therefore produced no signature on radar, or whether seeding did have an effect, but that effect was undetectable against the background reflectivity associated with naturally produced precipitation. Alternative assessment methods such as trace element analysis in snow, aircraft measurements, precipitation measurements, and modeling should be used to determine the efficacy of orographic cloud seeding when heavy background precipitation is present.

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  3. Abstract On 7 February 2020, precipitation within the comma-head region of an extratropical cyclone was sampled remotely and in situ by two research aircraft, providing a vertical cross section of microphysical observations and fine-scale radar measurements. The sampled region was stratified vertically by distinct temperature layers and horizontally into a stratiform region on the west side, and a region of elevated convection on the east side. In the stratiform region, precipitation formed near cloud top as side-plane, polycrystalline, and platelike particles. These habits occurred through cloud depth, implying that the cloud-top region was the primary source of particles. Almost no supercooled water was present. The ice water content within the stratiform region showed an overall increase with depth between the aircraft flight levels, while the total number concentration slightly decreased, consistent with growth by vapor deposition and aggregation. In the convective region, new particle habits were observed within each temperature-defined layer along with detectable amounts of supercooled water, implying that ice particle formation occurred in several layers. Total number concentration decreased from cloud top to the −8°C level, consistent with particle aggregation. At temperatures > −8°C, ice particle concentrations in some regions increased to >100 L −1 , suggesting secondary ice production occurred at lower altitudes. WSR-88D reflectivity composites during the sampling period showed a weak, loosely organized banded feature. The band, evident on earlier flight legs, was consistent with enhanced vertical motion associated with frontogenesis, and at least partial melting of ice particles near the surface. A conceptual model of precipitation growth processes within the comma head is presented. Significance Statement Snowstorms over the northeast United States have major impacts on travel, power availability, and commerce. The processes by which snow forms in winter storms over this region are complex and their snowfall totals are hard to forecast accurately because of a poor understanding of the microphysical processes within the clouds composing the storms. This paper presents a case study from the NASA IMPACTS field campaign that involved two aircraft sampling the storm simultaneously with radars, and probes that measure the microphysical properties within the storm. The paper examines how variations in stability and frontal structure influence the microphysical evolution of ice particles as they fall from cloud top to the surface within the storm. 
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  4. Abstract In Part II, two classes of vertical motions, fixed (associated with vertically propagating gravity waves tied to flow over topography) and transient (associated primarily with vertical wind shear and conditional instability within passing weather systems), were diagnosed over the Payette River basin of Idaho during the Seeded and Natural Orographic Wintertime Clouds: The Idaho Experiment (SNOWIE). This paper compares vertical motions retrieved from airborne Doppler radial velocity measurements with those from a 900-m-resolution model simulation to determine the impact of transient vertical motions on trajectories of ice particles initiated by airborne cloud seeding. An orographic forcing index, developed to compare vertical motion fields retrieved from the radar with the model, showed that fixed vertical motions were well resolved by the model while transient vertical motions were not. Particle trajectories were calculated for 75 cross-sectional pairs, each differing only by the observed and modeled vertical motion field. Wind fields and particle terminal velocities were otherwise identical in both trajectories so that the impact of transient vertical circulations on particle trajectories could be isolated. In 66.7% of flight-leg pairs, the distance traveled by particles in the model and observations differed by less than 5 km with transient features having minimal impact. In 9.3% of the pairs, model and observation trajectories landed within the ideal target seeding elevation range (>2000 m), whereas, in 77.3% of the pairs, both trajectories landed below the ideal target elevation. Particles in the observations and model descended into valleys on the mountains’ lee sides in 94.2% of cases in which particles traveled less than 37 km. 
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  5. Abstract

    This paper examines the controls on supercooled liquid water content (SLWC) and drop number concentrations (Nt,CDP) over the Payette River basin during the Seeded and Natural Orographic Wintertime Clouds: The Idaho Experiment (SNOWIE) campaign. During SNOWIE, 27.4% of 1-Hz in situ cloud droplet probe samples were in an environment containing supercooled liquid water (SLW). The interquartile range of SLWC, when present, was found to be 0.02–0.18 g m−3and 13.3–37.2 cm−3forNt,CDP, with the most extreme values reaching 0.40–1.75 g m−3and 150–320 cm−3in isolated regions of convection and strong shear-induced turbulence. SLWC andNt,CDPdistributions are shown to be directly related to cloud-top temperature and ice particle concentrations, consistent with past research over other mountain ranges. Two classes of vertical motions were analyzed as potential controls on SLWC andNt,CDP, the first forced by the orography and fixed in space relative to the topography (stationary waves) and the second transient, triggered by vertical shear and instability within passing synoptic-scale cyclones. SLWC occurrence and magnitudes, andNt,CDPassociated with fixed updrafts were found to be normally distributed about ridgelines when SLW was present. SLW was more likely to form at low altitudes near the terrain slope associated with fixed waves due to higher mixing ratios and larger vertical air parcel displacements at low altitudes. When considering transient updrafts, SLWC andNt,CDPappear more uniformly distributed over the flight track with little discernable terrain dependence as a result of time and spatially varying updrafts associated with passing weather systems. The implications for cloud seeding over the basin are discussed.

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  6. Abstract A dry-air intrusion induced by the tropopause folding split the deep cloud into two layers resulting in a shallow orographic cloud with a supercooled liquid cloud top at around −15°C and an ice cloud above it on 19 January 2017 during the Seeded and Natural Orographic Wintertime Clouds: The Idaho Experiment (SNOWIE). The airborne AgI seeding of this case was simulated by the WRF Weather Modification (WRF-WxMod) Model with different configurations. Simulations at different grid spacing, driven by different reanalysis data, using different model physics were conducted to explore the ability of WRF-WxMod to capture the properties of natural and seeded clouds. The detailed model–observation comparisons show that the simulation driven by ERA5 data, using Thompson–Eidhammer microphysics with 30% of the CCN climatology, best captured the observed cloud structure and supercooled liquid water properties. The ability of the model to correctly capture the wind field was critical for successful simulation of the seeding plume locations. The seeding plume features and ice number concentrations within them from the large-eddy simulations (LES) are in better agreement with observations than non-LES runs mostly due to weaker AgI dispersion associated with the finer grid spacing. Seeding effects on precipitation amount and impacted areas from LES seeding simulations agreed well with radar-derived values. This study shows that WRF-WxMod is able to simulate and quantify observed features of natural and seeded clouds given that critical observations are available to validate the model. Observation-constrained seeding ensemble simulations are proposed to quantify the AgI seeding impacts on wintertime orographic clouds. Significance Statement Recent observational work has demonstrated that the impact of airborne glaciogenic seeding of orographic supercooled liquid clouds is detectable and can be quantified in terms of the extra ground precipitation. This study aims, for the first time, to simulate this seeding impact for one well-observed case. The stakes are high: if the model performs well in this case, then seasonal simulations can be conducted with appropriate configurations after validations against observations, to determine the impact of a seeding program on the seasonal mountain snowpack and runoff, with more fidelity than ever. High–resolution weather simulations inherently carry uncertainty. Within the envelope of this uncertainty, the model compares very well to the field observations. 
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  7. Abstract

    This study documents the presence of ice in stratocumulus clouds with cloud top temperatures (CTT) > −5 °C in the cold sector of extratropical cyclones over the Southern Ocean (SO) during ten SO Clouds, Radiation, Aerosol Transport Experimental Study (SOCRATES) research flights. Case studies are presented showing ice signatures within clouds when CTT were between −2 and −5°C, evidenced in Doppler radar radial velocity changes observed during high‐altitude flight legs as ice particles melted across the 0°C isotherm. Ice on these legs was found to contribute to precipitation 3.8% of the time from clouds with −5°C < CTT <0°C. Clouds observed with a distinct melting level on high‐altitude flight legs overall had greater cloud depths, tops with higher reflectivities, and higher linear depolarization ratios, compared to clouds without a melting level. In situ flight legs were also analyzed when Himawari‐8 CTT were between 0 and −5°C and the aircraft was sampling in cloud within that temperature range. It was found that 3% of clouds sampled in situ with −5°C < CTT <0°C were mixed phase with a mean number concentration of 2.35 L−1for nonspherical particles with maximum diameters >100 μm and 1.13 L−1for nonspherical particles with maximum diameters >200 μm.

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  8. Abstract

    For a given cloud, whether the cloud top is predominately made up of ice crystals or supercooled liquid droplets plays a large role in the clouds overall radiative effects. This study uses collocated airborne radar, lidar, and thermodynamic data from 12 high‐altitude flight legs during the Southern Ocean Clouds, Radiation, Aerosol Transport Experimental Study (SOCRATES) to characterize Southern Ocean (SO) cold sector cloud top phase (i.e., within 96 m of top) as a function of cloud top temperature (CTT). A training data set was developed to create probabilistic phase classifications based on High Spectral Resolution Lidar data and Cloud Radar data. These classifications were then used to identify dominant cloud top phase. Case studies are presented illustrating examples of supercooled liquid water at cloud top at different CTT ranges over the SO (−3°C < CTTs < −28°C). During SOCRATES, 67.4% of sampled cloud top had CTTs less than 0°C. Of the subfreezing cloud tops sampled, 91.7% had supercooled liquid water present in the top 96 m and 74.9% were classified entirely as liquid‐bearing. Liquid‐bearing cloud tops were found at CTTs as cold as −30°C. Horizontal cloud extent was also determined as a function of median cloud top height.

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  9. Abstract

    An atmospheric river (AR) impacting Tasmania, Australia, and the Southern Ocean during the austral summer on 28–29 January 2018 during the Southern Ocean Clouds, Radiation, Aerosol Transport Experimental Study campaign is analyzed using a modeling and observational approach. Gulfstream‐V dropsonde measurements and Global Precipitation Measurement radar analyses were used in conjunction with Weather Research and Forecasting model simulations with water vapor tracers to investigate the relative contributions of tropical and midlatitude moisture sources to the AR. Moisture associated with a monsoonal tropical depression became entrained into a midlatitude frontal system that extended to 60°S, reaching the associated low‐pressure system 850 km off the coast of Antarctica—effectively connecting the tropics and the polar region. Tropical moisture contributed to about 50% of the precipitable water within the AR as the flow moved over the Southern Ocean near Tasmania. The tropical contribution to precipitation decreased with latitude, from >70% over Australia, to ~50% off the Australian coast, to less than 5% poleward of 55°S. The integrated vapor transport (IVT) through the core of the AR reached above 500 kg m−1 s−1during 1200 UTC 28 January to 0600 UTC 29 January, 1.29 times the average amount of water carried by the world's largest terrestrial river, the Amazon. The high IVT strength might be attributed to the higher water vapor content associated with the warmer temperatures across Australia and the Southern Ocean in austral summer.

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