01 Feb 2023
 | 01 Feb 2023

Trajectory enhancement of low-earth orbiter thermodynamic retrievals to predict convection: a simulation experiment

Mark T. Richardson, Brian H. Kahn, and Peter Kalmus

Abstract. 3-D fields of temperature (T) and specific humidity (q) retrieved by instruments such as the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) are predictive of convection, but convection often triggers during the multi-hour gaps between satellite overpasses. Here we fill the hours after AIRS overpasses by treating AIRS retrievals as air parcels which are moved adiabatically along Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP) wind trajectories. The approach is tested in a simulation experiment that samples 3-D European Reanalysis-5 (ERA5) T and q following the real-world AIRS time-space sampling from March–November 2019 over much of the Continental U.S. Our time-resolved product is named ERA5-FCST, in correspondence to the AIRS forecast product we are using it to test, named AIRS-FCST. ERA5-FCST errors may arise since processes such as radiative heating and NWP sub-grid convection are ignored. For bulk atmospheric layers, ERA5-FCST captures 59–94 % of local hourly variation in T and q. We then consider the relationship between convective available potential energy (CAPE), convective inhibition (CIN), and ERA5 precipitation. The 1° latitude-longitude ERA5-FCST grid cells in our highest CAPE and lowest CIN bin are more than 50 times as likely to develop heavy precipitation (> 4 mm hr−1), compared with the baseline probability from randomly selecting a location. This is a substantial improvement compared with using the original CAPE and CIN values at overpass time. The results support development of similar FCST products for operational atmospheric sounders to provide time-resolved thermodynamics in rapidly changing pre-convective atmospheres.

Mark T. Richardson et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-97', Anonymous Referee #1, 21 Feb 2023
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-97', Anonymous Referee #2, 22 Feb 2023

Mark T. Richardson et al.

Mark T. Richardson et al.


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Short summary
Convection over land often triggers hours after a satellite last passed overhead and measured the state of the atmosphere, and during those hours the atmosphere can change greatly. Here we show that it is possible to reconstruct most of those changes by using weather forecast winds to predict where warm and moist air parcels will travel. The results can be used to better-predict where precipitation is likely to happen in the hours after satellite measurements.