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Claire Pettersen

Space Science and Engineering Center (SSEC), University of Wisconsin-Madison

Enhancing our Understanding of Snowfall Modes with Ground-Based
Observations: From the Great Lakes to Scandinavia

Room 811 AOSS, February 8, 2017, 2:30 PM


Different thermodynamic and physical mechanisms in the atmosphere drive shallow versus deep snowfall events. There are therefore different characteristics observed by remotely sensed instruments that can be attributed to modes of snowfall. Though satellites can observe and recognize these patterns in snowfall, these measurements are limited - particularly in cases of shallow and light precipitation. By enhancing satellite measurements with ground-based instrumentation, whether with limited-term field campaigns or long-term strategic sites, we can further our understanding and assumptions about different snowfall modes and how they are measured from spaceborne instruments. Three years of data are presented from a ground-based instrument suite consisting of a MicroRain Radar (MRR; optimized for snow events) and a Precipitation Imaging Package (PIP). These instruments are located at the Marquette, Michigan National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office to: a) use coincident meteorological measurements and observations to enhance our understanding of the thermodynamic drivers and b) use these instruments as an example of applied research to operations to enhance forecasts of shallow snow events. Three winters of MRR and PIP measurements are partitioned into two-dimensional histograms of reflectivity and particle size distribution data, respectively. These statistics improve our understanding of deep versus shallow precipitation. Additionally, these statistical techniques are applied to similar datasets from Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) field campaigns for further insight into cloud and precipitation macro- and microphysical processes. In addition to presenting data from existing ground-based campaigns, a newly deployed ground suite of instruments based in Norway is discussed. The Meteorological Institute of Norway has a snow measurement site in Haukeliseter in the orographically complex Telemark Region. A joint project between University of Wisconsin and University of Utah augmented this site with an MRR, a PIP, and a Multi-Angle Snowflake Camera (MASC). The logistics of preparing and planning this deployment is outlined and some initial findings are presented.

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