National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2006

Evolution of a cold front encountering steep quasi-2D terrain: Coordinated aircraft observations of 8–9 December 2001 during IMPROVE-2

Bond, N.A., B.F. Smull, M.T. Stoelinga, C.P. Woods, and A. Haase

J. Atmos. Sci., 62(10), 3559–3579, doi: 10.1175/JAS3553.1 (2005)

Research aircraft observations from the 8–9 December 2001 case of the second phase of the Improvement of Microphysical Parameterization through Operational Verification Experiment (IMPROVE-2) describe the evolution of a wide cold-frontal rainband (WCFR) during its eastward advance from the Pacific coastline to a point 200 km inland over the Cascade Mountains of Oregon. This analysis has two objectives: first, to illustrate the rapid weakening of the circulation associated with a landfalling WCFR and the relationship of these changes to terrain-induced airflow modifications, and second, to quantify the degree to which this weakening impacted cloud microphysical properties such as liquid water content, ice particle concentrations, and precipitation rate. The kinematic structure of the WCFR is detailed using Doppler radar observations from a NOAA P-3 aircraft, while some concomitant cloud microphysical properties are documented using flight-level measurements from the University of Washington Convair-580 aircraft. An accompanying the fifth-generation Pennsylvania State University–National Center for Atmospheric Research (PSU–NCAR) Mesoscale Model (MM5) control simulation (nested to a horizontal resolution of 4 km over the IMPROVE-2 domain) provides a mesosynoptic context and thermodynamic information to complement the aircraft observations. To the authors’ knowledge, this case study represents the most complete documentation obtained to date of the rapid modifications that may occur when a frontal rainband progresses from coastal waters into a region of prominent terrain.

Feature Publications | Outstanding Scientific Publications

Contact Sandra Bigley |