Understanding the relationships between lightning, cloud microphysics, and airborne radar-derived storm structure during Hurricane Karl (2010)

AMS Citation:
Reinhart, B., and Coauthors, 2014: Understanding the relationships between lightning, cloud microphysics, and airborne radar-derived storm structure during Hurricane Karl (2010). Monthly Weather Review, 142, 590-605, doi:10.1175/MWR-D-13-00008.1.
Date:2014-02-01
Resource Type:article
Title:Understanding the relationships between lightning, cloud microphysics, and airborne radar-derived storm structure during Hurricane Karl (2010)
Abstract: This study explores relationships between lightning, cloud microphysics, and tropical cyclone (TC) storm structure in Hurricane Karl (16 September 2010) using data collected by the NASA DC-8 and Global Hawk (GH) aircraft during NASA’s Genesis and Rapid Intensification Processes (GRIP) experiment. The research capitalizes on the unique opportunity provided by GRIP to synthesize multiple datasets from two aircraft and analyze the microphysical and kinematic properties of an electrified TC. Five coordinated flight legs through Karl by the DC-8 and GH are investigated, focusing on the inner-core region (within 50 km of the storm center) where the lightning was concentrated and the aircraft were well coordinated. GRIP datasets are used to compare properties of electrified and nonelectrified inner-core regions that are related to the noninductive charging mechanism, which is widely accepted to explain the observed electric fields within thunderstorms. Three common characteristics of Karl’s electrified regions are identified: 1) strong updrafts of 10-20 m s⁻¹, 2) deep mixed-phase layers indicated by reflectivities >30 dBZ extending several kilometers above the freezing level, and 3) microphysical environments consisting of graupel, very small ice particles, and the inferred presence of supercooled water. These characteristics describe an environment favorable for in situ noninductive charging and, hence, TC electrification. The electrified regions in Karl’s inner core are attributable to a microphysical environment that was conducive to electrification because of occasional, strong convective updrafts in the eyewall.
Subject(s):Hurricanes/typhoons, Lightning
Peer Review:Refereed
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OpenSky citable URL: ark:/85065/d7qn67qs
Publisher's Version: 10.1175/MWR-D-13-00008.1
Author(s):
  • Brad Reinhart
  • Henry Fuelberg
  • Richard Blakeslee
  • Douglas Mach
  • Andrew Heymsfield - NCAR/UCAR
  • Aaron Bansemer - NCAR/UCAR
  • Stephen Durden
  • Simone Tanelli
  • Gerald Heymsfield
  • Bjorn Lambrigtsen
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