Purdue University Graduate School
Connor_Belak_Thesis.pdf (15.17 MB)

Verification of simulated DSDs and sensitivity to CCN concentration in EnKF analysis and ensemble forecasts of the 30 April 2017 tornadic QLCS during VORTEX-SE

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posted on 2021-03-16, 18:32 authored by Connor Paul BelakConnor Paul Belak

Storms in the SE-US often evolve in different environments than those in the central Plains. Many poorly understood aspects of these differing environments may impact the tornadic potential of SE-US storms. Among these differences are potential variations in the CCN concentration owing to differences in land cover, combustion, industrial and urban activity, and proximity to maritime environments. The relative influence of warm and cold rain processes is sensitive to CCN concentration, with higher CCN concentrations producing smaller cloud droplets and more efficient cold rain processes. Cold rain processes result in DSDs with relatively larger drops from melting ice compared to warm rain processes. Differences in DSDs impact cold pool and downdraft size and strength, that influence tornado potential. This study investigates the impact of CCN concentration on DSDs in the SE-US by comparing DSDs from ARPS-EnKF model analyses and forecasts to observed DSDs from portable disdrometer-equipped probes collected by a collaboration between Purdue University, the University of Oklahoma (OU), the National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL), and the University of Massachusetts in a tornadic QLCS on 30 April 2017 during VORTEX-SE.

The ARPS-EnKF configuration, which consists of 40 ensemble members, is used with the NSSL triple-moment microphysics scheme. Surface and radar observations are both assimilated. Data assimilation experiments with CCN concentrations ranging from 100 cm-3 (maritime) to 2,000 cm-3 (continental) are conducted to characterize the variability of DSDs and the model output DSDs are verified against the disdrometer observations. The sensitivity of the DSD variability to CCN concentrations is evaluated. Results indicate continental CCN concentrations (close to CCN 1,000 cm3) produce DSDs that align closest to the observed DSDs. Other thermodynamic variables also accord better to observations in intermediate CCN concentration environments.


National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration grant NA18OAR4590313


Degree Type

  • Master of Science


  • Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Dr. Daniel Dawson

Additional Committee Member 2

Dr. Michael Baldwin

Additional Committee Member 3

Dr. Robin Tanamachi

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