A Climatological Study of West African Mesoscale Convective Vortices

May 25, 2012 | By | Add a Comment

A GMU proposal submitted to NASA-ROSES-2012 A12: Modeling, Analysis, and Prediction Program (NNH12ZDA001N-MAP), $479,433, 1 mo/yr, 01/01/2013 – 12/31/2016.

This study focuses on several science questions relating to origin and evolution of Mesoscale Convective Vortices (MCVs) in West Africa. Although it is known that this geographical region is conducive to formation of the Mesoscale Convective Systems (MCS) and embedded MCV, there is much speculation about the mechanisms leading to formation, regeneration of secondary convection and the interactions between the MCV and the larger scale, leading to intensification of the African Easterly Wave (AEW). The goal of this project is to investigate the origin, structure, evolution and geographic distribution of MCVs using the space-based dataset, Modern Era Retrospective-Analysis for Research Applications (MERRA), and available surface observations, particularly from ground based sounding retrievals. Using the long term, space-based MERRA dataset will provide additional spatial and temporal coverage within this data sparse region.
Several databases will be compiled, by utilizing a tracking algorithm, to extract instances of MCVs. In addition to this, other tracking algorithms will be used to extract instances of convection associated with the MCV and AEW, as well as the 9-day average track of the African Easterly Jet (AEJ) throughout the season. These databases will be linked together by temporal and spatial characteristics, and will contain a wide variety of information about the origin and evolution of the MCV and the associated convection, as well as information about features within the surrounding environment that affects the MCV. The information in this database will make it possible to categorize the formation mechanisms of MCVs, features which attribute to regeneration of convection and features which attribute to intensification of MCVs. Combining all of these pieces of information, and linking them by date and location, will allow for more thorough analysis. This will lead to a better understanding of what larger scale features impact formation, regeneration of convection and intensification.
Statistical and spatial analysis will also be performed. Statistics will be compiled on the characteristics of the MCV, which are directly related to length of life-cycle of MCV and intensity of MCV. Lastly, statistics will be compiled that are related to the surrounding environment, such as proximity of formation to convection, or regeneration of convection, proximity to the AEW as well as relation to location of the AEJ. In addition to this, correlation analysis and kinematic and thermodynamic analysis will also be performed, to determine how various features interact, and influence further evolution.

Filed in: Pending Support

Dr. Paul R. Houser

About the Author (Author Profile)

Dr. Houser in an internationally recognized expert in local to global land surface-atmospheric remote sensing, in-situ observation and numerical simulation, development and application of hydrologic data assimilation methods, scientific integrity and policy, and global water and energy cycling. He received his B.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Hydrology and Water Resources from the University of Arizona in 1992 and 1996 respectively. Dr. Houser's previous experience includes internships at the U.S. Geological Survey and at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Dr. Houser joined the NASA-GSFC Hydrological Sciences Branch and the Data Assimilation Office (DAO/GMAO) in 1997, served as manager of NASA’s Land Surface Hydrology Program, and served as branch head of the Hydrological Science Branch. In 2005, he joined the George Mason University Climate Dynamics Program and the Geography and Geoinformation Sciences Department as Professor of Global Hydrology, and formed CREW (the Center for Research for Environment and Water). Dr. Houser has also teamed with groundwater development and exploration companies (EarthWater Global and Geovesi) and has served as Science Advisor to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. Dr. Houser has led numerous scientific contributions, including the development of Land Data Assimilation Systems (LDAS), the Hydrospheric States Mission (Hydros/SMAP), the Land Information System (LIS), the NASA Energy and Water cycle Study (NEWS), and the Water Cycle Solutions Network (WaterNet).

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