Radar Reflectivity–Based Estimates of Mixed Layer Depth

Heinselman, P. L.; Stensrud, D. J.; Hluchan, R. M.; Spencer, P. L.; Burke, P. C.; Elmore, K. L.
February 2009
Journal of Atmospheric & Oceanic Technology;Feb2009, Vol. 26 Issue 2, p229
Academic Journal
This study investigates the potential for estimating mixed layer depth by taking advantage of the radial gradients in the radar reflectivity field produced by the large vertical gradients in water vapor mixing ratio that are characteristic of the mixing height. During the day, this relationship often results in a ring of maximum reflectivity observed to progress radially outward from the radar as mixed layer depth increases. A comparison of mixed layer depths estimated from the Oklahoma City WSR-88D (KTLX) with those estimated from a nearby 915-MHz profiler reveals that mixed layer depths from the WSR-88D are slightly too high (up to 0.3 km) during the first three hours of the diurnal cycle, nearly unbiased midday, and slightly too low (0.2 km or less) thereafter. The procedure estimates mixed layer depths only during the daytime hours from 1300 to 2300 UTC. The weather conditions for the 17 days studied were fairly quiescent, with sunny skies and light winds.


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