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- Radars have occasionally detected breaking Kelvin-Helmholtz (KH) waves under clear-air conditions in the atmospheric boundary layer and in the free troposphere. However, very few direct measurements of such waves within clouds have previously been reported and those have not clearly documented wave breaking. In this article, we present some of the most detailed and striking radar observations to date of breaking KH waves within clouds and at cloud top and discuss their relevance to the issue of cloud-top entrainment, which is believed to be important in convective and stratiform clouds. Aircraft observations reported by Stith suggest that vortex-like circulations near cloud top are an entrainment mechanism in cumuliform clouds. Laboratory and modeling studies have examined possibility that KH instability may be responsible for mixing at cloud top, but direct observations have not yet been presented. Preliminary analyses shown here may help fill this gap. The data presented in this paper were obtained during two field projects in 1991 that included observations from the NOAA Wave Propagation Laboratory's K-band Doppler radar (wavelength = 8.7 mm) and special rawinsonde ascents. The sensitivity (-30 dBZ at 10 km range), fine spatial resolution (375-m pulse length and 0.5 degrees beamwidth), velocity measurement precision (5-10 cm s-1), scanning capability, and relative immunity to ground clutter make it sensitive to non-precipitating and weakly precipitating clouds, and make it an excellent instrument to study gravity waves in clouds. In particular, the narrow beam width and short pulse length create scattering volumes that are cylinders 37.5 m long and 45 m (90 m) in diameter at 5 km (10 km) range. These characteristics allow the radar to resolve the detailed structure in breaking KH waves such as have been seen in photographic cloud images.
- NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS) Collection.
- Document ID: 19940017837.
Accession ID: 94N22310.
NASA. Langley Research Center, The FIRE Cirrus Science Results 1993; p 71-74.
- No Copyright.
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