NASA DEVELOP Summer 2012 Project Summary

New England Weather and Disasters

Improved Small-Scale Wind Forecast Capability for Regional-Scale Weather Forecasting Decision Support Through the Integrated Use of NASA EOS

Provide new products that will provide regional-scale and hurricane-scale forecasters new decision support tools

Final Project Report Here, a movie regarding the project accomplishments can be found Here.

Location: Saint Louis University (Earth & Atmospheric Sciences Department and Center for Environmental Sciences)

Advisors: Dr. Emily Berndt, Dr. Timothy Eichler, Dr. Jack Fishman

Project Start/Completion Date: Summer 2012/Summer 2013
Project Length: 3-4 terms

Applied Sciences National Applications:

  • Weather
  • Disasters

Dr. Gary Jedlovec, Meteorologist / Remote Sensing Specialist NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, NASA SPoRT
Dr. Michael Folmer GOES-R Satellite Champion at NOAA/NWS HPC/OPC and NOAA/NESDIS SAB, University of Maryland, ESSIC, CICS

Project Requested By:
Dr. Michael Folmer of NOAA/NWS HPC/OPC and NOAA/NESDIS SAB, University of Maryland, ESSIC, CICS

Current Management Practices & Policies:
Localized wind damage is one of the most difficult aspects of weather to forecast.  Current capabilities are primarily derived from existing forecast models issued by NCEP/NOAA and rarely provide the information necessary to issue high wind warnings with much confidence.  The users of these products include the GOES-R proving ground, NOAA’s Ocean Prediction Center and the Hydrometeorological Prediction Center.  The end-users would benefit greatly with better information regarding the location and intensity of high winds and we will be working with NOAA to provide some retrospective studies to see how NASA EOS satellite products can be used to improve the ability of their models to characterize such events.  Eventually this information will be incorporated into the new set of operational products currently under development by the GOES-R Proving Ground.

Decision Support Tool:
One of our partners, Dr. Michael Folmer, currently working at NOAA in the GOES-R Products Proving Group has been the primary proponent suggesting that such applications-oriented analyses should be conducted.

Transition Approach to end-user:
Dr. Folmer currently works with the Hydrometeorological Prediction Center and Ocean Prediction Center; the purpose of the research conducted by his office is the development of prototypes that are eventually transitioned into operational products.

Community Concerns:

  • Intense extratropical cyclones impact densely populated areas such as Europe and the Northeastern United States.
  • High winds impact ship routes

Study Location: New England, United States

Project Summary
         Under favorable meteorological conditions, synoptic-scale storms have the potential to create hurricane force surface wind gusts, which result in devastating social and economic impacts. Extreme surface wind gusts have been observed in conjunction with specific types of weather fronts that are favorable for the formation of a low-level jet near the comma head cloud of an extratropical cyclone.  Enhanced gustiness associated with this low level jet has been termed the “Sting Jet” and it has been found that the evolution of this particular cloud pattern in satellite imagery is a useful tool for nowcasting the timing and location of high winds. The Sting Jet can produce significant amounts of damage, but there is little known about it structure and evolution.  Although Browning and Field (2004) outlined features on satellite imagery, which indicate the possible presence of the Sting Jet, Browning (2004) states that better observational input is necessary to understand and eventually provide accurate forecasts of these phenomena.  Our project will use AIRS, MODIS, and conventional GOES satellite imagery to look for these cloud features and to see if a Sting Jet can be better identified when these additional, high resolution satellite datasets are incorporated in the analyses.  The initial focus of our study will focus on case studies that impacted Europe and the United States.  Specifically, we will focus on the 3 January 2012 storm that produced hurricane force winds in Scotland and the Halloween storm that impacted the Northeastern United States on 30-31 October 2011.  We will work with Michael Folmer at the GOES-R proving ground to determine if the new SEVERI Air mass product improves identification of the cloud features. The use of higher resolution imagery and new imagery will provide a framework for improved forecasts of dangerous high wind events.
         Eventually we will diagnose mesoscale processes such as conditional symmetric instability and evaporative cooling to look for the features responsible for creating the Sting Jet.  Additionally we will evaluate Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) simulations to assess their ability to forecast this phenomenon and to see how much improvement results from incorporating AIRS data into WRF model runs.  
An additional aspect of this project will focus on linking extreme wind events to synoptic-scale storms using NASA’s MERRA data.  MERRA data are NASA’s reanalysis product, which has a horizontal resolution of 0.67° longitude x 0.5° latitude, and a temporal resolution of one hour spanning 1979-2010.  Dr. Folmer has identified five case studies of storms that have produced damaging winds. Our goal is to reconstruct the wind structure of these storms through their evolution using the MERRA data.  The results will be compared with coarse-grid reanalysis products (e.g. NCEP’s Reanalysis II and ERA40 datasets) to assess the impacts of resolution on the storm’s wind structure.  Our scientific objectives are to: 1) evaluate MERRA data to see if it is capable of simulating the mesoscale wind structure of the storms 2) use the results as a springboard in evaluating the mesoscale structure of intense mid-latitude cyclones 3) use the results as a foundation to studying small-scale phenomena such as “sting jets”.
Another goal we hope to achieve as part of this project is generating a climatology of storm tracks through an analysis of the MERRA dataset.  Our method of generating storm tracks is based on a Lagrangian method using an algorithm described in Serreze (1995) and Serreze et al. (1997) rather than an Eulerian method, which uses band-passed 500 hPa height field and strongest wave activity to define a storm.  This task will utilize NASA MERRA data to generate a high-resolution storm track dataset.  NASA MERRA data is produced by the Global Modeling and Assimilation Office (GMAO) and is consistent the GMAO’s primary goal to “maximize the impact of satellite observations in climate, weather and atmospheric composition prediction using comprehensive global models”.

Summer 2012 Specific Tasks and Deliverables:

  • Gather data for 30-31 October 2011 Northeastern U.S. storm and for 11 January 2012 Scotland storm
  • MODIS and AIRS imagery and SEVERI products from NASA Sport
  • Download GOES, Meteosat and other ancillary data
  • Process data from both storms to focus on potential Sting Jet events
  • Confer with science advisors to evaluate whether higher resolution Earth observations (MODIS and AIRS) yield positive ID of Sting Jet events and assess feasibility of technique
  • Set up and conduct WRF model runs to evaluate the usefulness of AIRS inputs in predicting Sting Jets for the other potential storm Summarize summer results for:
      - project poster
      - term report
      - abstract and potential conference paper/poster (AMS 2013?)
      - end user presentation (next step)
  • Coordinate and support meeting with operational end users (NOAA/NWS Hydrometeorological Prediction Center NOAA/NESDIS Satellite Analysis Branch) to document requirements of potential operational products and to document the required transition to operation process from research to SAB use (meeting location preferably at end user site, Camp Springs or College Park, MD)
     - Include Dr. Folmer to speak to broader science
     - Include DEVELOP NPO representative to present preliminary DEVELOP results and to gather requirements and transition to operations guidance.

Earth Observations & Parameters:
MODIS and AIRS data supplied to Michael by Gary and team at NASA Sport. Michael will then supply the imagery to us

  • MODIS – Visible, Long and Short wave IR, Water Vapor, Natural Color, Cloud Phase Indicator, Cloud Top Pressure
  • AIRS – ozone data to assess whether stratospheric intrusions play a role in development of the sting jet.
  • GOES east Visible, IR, Water Vapor Imagery
  • Meteosat Visible, IR, Water Vapor Imagery

Future NASA Missions:

Weather Research and Forecasting Model

Ancillary Data:
North American Regional Reanalysis
Rapid Update Cycle II 13 km

Letters from End-User Organization:
Michael Folmer (attached)

Resources Requested:
Students -

  • Proposed Student Team Size: 4-5 summers; 2-3 school year
  • Average Student Hours Per-Week: 150-200 hours (summer); 50 during school year

Advising -

  • Dr. Emily Berndt
  • Dr. Tim Eichler
  • Dr. Jack Fishman

Browning, K.A., 2004:   The sting at the end of the tail: Damaging winds associated with extratropical cyclones.   Q. J. R. Meteorol. Soc., 130, 375-399.

Browning, K.A. and M. Field, 2004: Evidence from Meteosat imagery of the interaction of sting jets with the boundary layer. Meteorological Applications, 11, 277-289.

Martínez-Alvarado, O., F. Weidle, and S. L. Gray, 2010: Sting jets in simulations of a real cyclone by two mesoscale models. Mon. Wea. Rev., 138, 4054–4075.

Serreze, M.C., 1995: Climatological aspects of cyclone development and
decay in the Arctic, Atmos.-Ocean, 33, 1-23.

Serreze, M.C., F. Carse, R.G. Barry and J.C. Rogers, 1997: Icelandic low cyclone activity:
climatological features, linkages with the NAO and relationships with recent changes in
the northern hemisphere circulation, J. Climate, 10, 453-464.