2011 OAR Outstanding Scientific Paper

2011 Outstanding Scientific Paper 

Mr. M.R. Kumjian and Dr. A. V. Ryzhkov

Storm-Relative Helicity Revealed from Polarimetric Radar Measurements. Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences, 66, 667-685

The dual-polarization radar variables are especially sensitive to the microphysical processes of melting and size sorting of precipitation particles. In deep convective storms, polarimetric measurements of such processes can provide information about the airflow in and around the storm that may be used to elucidate storm behavior and evolution. Size sorting mechanisms include differential sedimentation, vertical transport, strong rotation, and wind shear. In particular, winds that veer with increasing height typical of supercell environments cause size sorting that is manifested as an enhancement of differential reflectivity (ZDR) along the right or inflow edge of the forward-flank downdraft precipitation echo, which has been called the ZDR arc signature. In some cases, this shear profile can be augmented by the storm inflow. It is argued that the magnitude of this enhancement is related to the low-level storm-relative environmental helicity (SRH) in the storm inflow.

To test this hypothesis, a simple numerical model is constructed that calculates trajectories for raindrops based on their individual sizes, which allows size sorting to occur. The modeling results indicate a strong positive correlation between the maximum ZDR in the arc signature and the low-level SRH, regardless of the initial drop size distribution aloft. Additional observational evidence in support of the conceptual model is presented. Potential changes in the ZDR arc signature as the supercell evolves and the low-level mesocyclone occludes are described.