Lab Activities: Current and Past Research Projects

 

Department of Energy (DOE) grant: Tropical Cyclones and Climate Change

In collaboration with Drs. Anantha Aiyyer, Fred Semazzi, and Lian Xie, we are examining the question of how future climate change may influence the intensity and number of tropical cyclones. Our work is focussed primarily on the Atlantic basin. We are using output from climate model simulations in conjunction with a sophisticated numerical weather prediction model to generate high resolution simulations of current and future Atlantic tropical cyclones.
Offsetting effects are evident, with stabilization of the atmosphere compensating warmer sea-surface temperatures. However, there is variability in the amount of stabilization that may occur, and even with this stabilization, some increase in maximum intensity is expected. Furthermore, model simulations reveal that precipitation amounts will increase even for storms comparable in strength to current systems.

Student Participants:

Megan Gentry
Kevin Hill

Research related links:





 

 

National Science Foundation (NSF) grant: Process of MCS Propagation

The ability to anticipate the formation, intensity, and movement of organized convective storms remains a major challenge for numerical prediction models as well as for human forecasters. In previous research, the inability of numerical weather prediction models to predict the movement of organized convective storms was hypothesized to reduce the accuracy of precipitation forecasts in the downstream region. In this work, we seek to improve the ability of forecast models to represent the motion of organized convective systems, with the ultimate goal being improvement in forecasts in and around these systems.

Student Participants:

Kelly Mahoney
Christian Cassell

Research related links:





 

 

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) grant: Warm-Season Convection and Tropical Cyclone Impacts

Continuing the long-term collaboration between regional NWS offices and NC State, we are working to better understand and predict several warm-season weather phenomena. One recent focus is the analysis of convective storms that form along the periphery of cold-air damming events; an example of this phenomenon is depicted in the radar image shown above. In addition, research into the processes accompanying weather hazards associated with landfalling tropical cyclones, including heavy precipitation and tornadoes, are among the foci for this project.

Student Participants:

Adam Baker

Research related links:

NWS-NCSU Collaborative Research Site



 

 

Renaissance Computing Institute (RENCI) grant: Real-Time Tropical Atlantic Forecasting System

In collaboration with RENCI, we have set up an operational Atlantic Tropical Cyclone prediction system, based on the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model. The 2008 Atlantic hurricane season was characterized by considerable activity, and the modeling system showed considerable success, even relative to more established forecasting systems. Efforts are underway to further improve the system for the 2009 season.

Student Participants:

Briana Gordon
Megan Gentry
Kevin Hill

Research related links:

HUR-NC Real-Time Atlantic Forecasts page

RENCI Home Page


 


Past Research

 

Collaborative Science, Technology and Applied Research Program (CSTAR)

A longstanding tradition of successful collaboration exists between the Raleigh NWS Forecast Office and NCSU. In 1999, the NWS-NCSU collaboration was taken to a new level with the funding of a NOAA CSTAR proposal- this project involves NCSU and several regional NWS offices, including Wilmington, Newport, and Raleigh NC, Wakefield, Blacksburg, and Sterling VA, and Greer, Columbia, and Charleston, SC. Input from operational forecasters at these offices allowed the CSTAR group to identify challenges that were common to all regional forecasters. A second CSTAR effort, designed to improve cold-season precipitation forecasts in the southeastern U.S., was begun in 2003. Observational case studies, climatological and satistical studies, and numerical models are being used to examine the precipitation distribution accompanying cold-air damming, coastal fronts, and coastal cyclones. The influence of upstream convection on the downstream precipitation forecast is a major focus. A couple of the questions to be answered are:

  • How does the presence of convection alter the moisture transport in midlatitude cyclones and fronts affecting the southeast?
  • How can models ideally represent this process?
Student Participants:

Mike Brennan
Kelly Mahoney
Tom Green

Research related links:

NWS-NCSU Collaborative Research Site
Real-Time Split Front Detection Home Page
Split Front and Cold Front Aloft Tutorial
Cold Air Damming Composites


 

 

National Science Foundation (NSF) grant: Diabatic Processes and Predictability

It is well known that quantitative precipitation forecasting is a major weakness of numerical weather forecasting models. Owing to the fact that during heavy precipitation, condensation (and deposition) release tremendous amounts of latent heat into the atmosphere, one must then ask the question: "If numerical models produce an erroneous forecast of precipitation, what are the consequences for other aspects of the prediction?"

The objectives of this research project are to examine the question of diabatic feedbacks into numerical model errors using a potential vorticity (PV) perspective. For adiabatic, frictionless flow, PV is a conservative quantity. Through this conservation principle, one can then identify unamiguously the impacts of diabatic processes. This, in conjunction with the invertibility principle, which links the PV to other atmospheric fields, allows us to analyze the impact of model precipitation errors on model forecasts.

It appears that precipitation which is resolved explicitly by the model redistributes PV in a somewhat realistic manner; however, precipitation that is parameterized, rather than resolved, appears to be associated with more substantial errors in the lower-tropospheric PV field in some cases. The case of convective cold-frontal rainbands is currently under investigation to document forecast errors and examine the sensitivity of predictions to numerical model configuration.

Student Participants:

Richard Yablonsky
Kelly Mahoney
Heather Reeves
Kyle Pressel

Research related links:

MM5 Home Page
ARPS Home Page
NASA Goddard Mesoscale Branch


 

 

National Science Foundation (NSF) grant: Precipitation Mass Sink

The removal of atmospheric mass is a process that is simple, yet overlooked. In most meteorology textbooks, the equation for conservation of mass, the continuity equation, is written with zero on the right hand side. However, shen precipitation removes what was formerly water vapor to the surface, then the right side of the equation is nonzero, and there is an associated hydrostatic pressure reduction. Although this effect is entirely negligible in most circumstances, it can be significant for systems that are characterized by very heavy precipitation, such as tropical storms and hurricanes. This project uses numerical models to quantify the magnitude of this mechanism in some recent hurricanes, including Lili (2002) and Isabel (2003).

Student Participants:

Richard Yablonsky
Kevin Hill
Megan Gentry

Research related links:

MM5 Home Page
ARPS Home Page
TPC Archives/Lili
TPC Archives/Isabel


 

 

National Science Foundation (NSF) grant: Coastal Cyclones

In a joint effort with Dr. Sethu Raman, the primary objectives of the coastal cyclone project are to study the impact that the Gulf Stream and associated sea-surface temperature gradients have on the extratropical cyclogenesis process.

Student Participants:

Mike Brennan
Bliar Holloway

Research related links:

MM5 Home Page
ARPS Home Page


 

Turfgrass Project

    In a collaborative effort with the NC State Department of Plant Pathology, members of the Forecasting Lab are working to reduce pesticide application by monitoring weather conditions that are associated with plant disease. By improving the predictibility of plant disease based on meteorological conditions, the goal is to decrease the frequency and area over which pesticides and fungicides are applied.
    Turf con't...
    Turf con't...

Student Participants:
Rick Palmieri
Collaborators:
Dr. Dev Niyogi
Dr. Lane Tredway
Research related links:

NCSU Plant Pathology


 

 

South East Center for Mesoscale Environmental Prediction (SECMEP)

    The Southeast Center for Mesoscale Environmental Prediction is a research consortium made up of and jointly funded by the Department of Marine, Earth, and Atmospheric Sciences at NC State University, Capitol Broadcasting Company, the State Climate Office of North Carolina, and SGI.

SECMEP has several long range goals:

  • Provide high resolution mesoscale model forecasts for use by Capitol Broadcasting Company.

  • Provide high resolution air quality forecasts for North Carolina.

  • Provide numerical modeling educational tools to North Carolina institutions through the State Climate Office and the Department of Marine, Earth, and Atmospheric Sciences.

  • Provide forecasters with an interactive, directed process for interrogating mesoscale model fields to address specific weather and air quality forecasting needs.

  • Provide state-of-science coupled model forecasting techniques, linking meteorology, emissions, air quality, and hydrology.

  • Provide North Carolina farmers with high resolution agricultural forecasts through the State Climate Office.

    The MM5 is a limited-area, terrain-following, mesoscale model developed by The Pennsylvania State University, in cooperation with the National Center for Atmospheric Research. It is maintained by the Mesoscale and Microscale Meteorology Division of NCAR.

Student Participants:

Jason Caldwell
Jason Cerjak

Research related links:

MM5 Home Page
NWP Precipitation Processes Lessons
Texas A&M Department of Meteorology
FSU Department of Meteorology
IWDS Home Page


 

 

Meteorology in Support of Energy Trading (METEOSET)

    Weather exerts a strong influence on energy prices. The ultimate goal of the METEOSET project is to supply energy traders with unique and superior forecast information in order to provide a competitive edge.
    The goals of the METEOSET project will be achieved through statistical and synoptic-dynamic analysis of summertime heat waves, evaluation of case summaries of identified heat wave events, and completing composite analyses of heat wave events from gridded meteorological data sets. The forecasts will be provided in terms that are easily interpreted by energy traders.
    The end result of this study will be a unique and sophisticated forecasting process that is specifically designed for the accurate prediction of extreme heat in the 0-10 day time frame.

Student Participants:

Wyat Appel
Scott Kennedy

Research related links:

CDC Map Room
Climate Prediction Center
Operational Models Matrix
COLA/IGES Weather & Climate Images


 

 

Collaborative Science, Technology and Applied Research Program (CSTAR)

A longstanding tradition of successful collaboration exists between the Raleigh NWS Forecast Office and NCSU. In 1999, the NWS-NCSU collaboration was taken to a new level with the funding of a NOAA CSTAR proposal- this project involves NCSU and 5 regional NWS offices, including Wilmington, Newport, and Raleigh NC, Wakefield, VA, and Greer, SC. Input from operational forecasters at these five offices allowed the CSTAR group to identify challenges that were common to all regional forecasters. The phenomenon of cold-air damming, and the coastal front, were identified, and are the focus of current CSTAR research. Currently, three graduate students and one undergraduate researcher are working with Drs. Riordan, Xie, and Lackmann on this project, with ongoing interaction at each of the five participating NWS offices. The objectives of the CSTAR Project are to:

  • Strengthen conceptual models of Cold-Air Damming (CAD) and the Coastal Front (CF) through extended climatologies, and especially improving understanding of process-interactions during CAD and CF events. Examples include interactions of migratory frontal structures and cyclonic systems with CAD and CF events.
  • Diagnose the dynamics of a diverse set of CAD and CF cases through detailed observational studies.
  • Elucidate the physical processes leading to erosion of the cold dome and onshore surging of the coastal front.
  • Improve model representation of these proceses.
  • Determine the optimal mesoscale model configurations for real-time CAD and CF forecasting.
Student Participants:

Mike Brennan
Wendy Sellers
Keith Contre
Wyat Appel
Chris Bailey

Research related links:

NWS-NCSU Collaborative Research Site
Real-Time Split Front Detection Home Page
Split Front and Cold Front Aloft Tutorial
Cold Air Damming Composites


 

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