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Clear-air radar observations of the atmospheric boundary layer

Turker Ince, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This dissertation presents the design and operation of a high-resolution frequency-modulated continuous-wave (FM-CW) radar system to study the structure and dynamics of clear-air turbulence in the atmospheric boundary layer (ABL). This sensitive radar can image the vertical structure of the ABL with both high spatial and temporal resolutions, and provide both qualitative information about the morphology of clear-air structures and quantitative information on the intensity of fluctuations in refractive-index of air. The principles of operation and the hardware and data acquisition characteristics of the radar are described in the dissertation. In October 1999, the radar participated in the Cooperative Atmosphere-Surface Exchange Study (CASES'99) Experiment to characterize the temporal structure and evolution of the boundary-layer features in both convective and stable conditions. The observed structures include clear-air convection, boundary layer evolution, gravity waves, Kelvin-Helmholtz instabilities, stably stratified layers, and clear-air turbulence. Many of the S-band radar images also show high-reflectivity returns from Rayleigh scatterers such as insects. An adaptive median filtering technique based on local statistics has, therefore, been developed to discriminate between Bragg and Rayleigh scattering in clear-air radar observations. The filter is tested on radar observations of clear air convection with comparison to two commonly used image processing techniques. The dissertation also examines the statistical mean of the radar-measured [special characters omitted] for clear-air convection, and compares it with the theoretical predictions. The study also shows that the inversion height, local thickness of the inversion layer, and the height of the elevated atmospheric layers can be estimated from the radar reflectivity measurements. In addition, comparisons to the radiosonde-based height estimates are made. To examine the temporal and spatial structure of [special characters omitted], the dissertation presents two case studies with the measurements of remote (the FM-CW radar and Doppler lidar) and in-situ (research aircraft, kite, and radiosonde) sensors from the stable nighttime boundary layer. It also presents a unique observation of evolution of the convective and nocturnal boundary layers by the S-band radar, and provides description of the observed boundary layer characteristics with the aid of in-situ measurements by the 55m instrumented tower and radiosonde.

Subject Area

Electrical engineering|Atmosphere|Remote sensing

Recommended Citation

Ince, Turker, "Clear-air radar observations of the atmospheric boundary layer" (2001). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3012141.