Boundary Layer Meteorology Research
Dating back to the 1970’s, SWA scientists have been involved in investigations of the atmospheric boundary layer ranging from the tropics, including the Amazon Basin, to South Africa and to many locations in the United States. Many of the earlier studies of the boundary layer in locations such as MD, NC, VA and WV were in support of SWA’s efforts in wind energy issues.
Since 2002, SWA has been flying an airborne DWL (ADWL) over the coastal regions and complex mountain-valley terrain near Monterey, CA as well as the mountains near Dugway, UT (2011-12). The wind and aerosol measurements taken by the ADWL have lead SWA scientists to define, identify and better understand atmospheric boundary layer circulations of the coastal zone as well as that of complex mountainous terrain. This includes such features as Organized Large Eddies (OLES), turbulence towers, and low level jets over the waters and coastal zone and mountain-valley and cross-mountain circulations over complex terrain.
A major component of the these Boundary Layer studies is not just the scientific analysis but the comparison and validation of different types of wind measurements such as profilers, rawinsondes, towers and the ADWL.
Tropical Meteorology Research
Since its’ inception in 1974, SWA scientists have been involved in many aspects of tropical meteorology ranging from the modeling, analysis, risk assessment and remote sensing of Hurricanes and Tropical Storms to tropical rainfall investigations and on through detailed research of the atmosphere of the Amazon Basin. Most recently, SWA scientists have flown a Doppler Wind Lidar onboard a Navy aircraft to take wind and aerosol measurements in an around tropical cyclones of the western Pacific Ocean. These measurements have been used to improve hurricane model forecasts as well as help us better understand the circulations and features of the tropical circulations. In the upcoming years, SWA also plans to be involved in similar field programs investigating the circulation of the Indian Southwest Monsoon and the Somali Jet.
Polar Meteorology Research
In the last year, SWA has been funded by NASA to assess the current status and deficiencies of the observations, analysis, and modeling of the Arctic atmosphere, particularly the atmospheric boundary layer. Utilizing this assessment, SWA will be providing NASA with the designs of an Arctic field campaign (either piggy-back or stand alone) that utilizes an airborne Doppler Wind Lidar to take measurements of features, locations and surfaces that would aid the entire Polar meteorology community. It is hoped that this mission will proceed and lead to additional campaigns that can be integrated into larger International measurement programs such as the WCRO Polar Prediction Program.
Mesoscale Meteorology and Modeling
In addition to flying a Doppler Wind Lidar onboard an aircraft, SWA has also been responsible for deploying a similar lidar on a truck where it has been used along with a radar to measure the wind fields in and around tornadoes across the Midwestern United States. This was done as part of the 2012 VORTEX study and is continuing in 2014.
Since 2010, SWA has been tuning and running the Advanced Research WRF (Weather Research and Forecasting) modeling system (ARW) to assist us in both environmental studies for clients as well as funded research from agencies such as NASA, NOAA and the DoD. The WRF is a mesoscale model that can be run in a nested domain configuration down to .5 – 1 km and help us forecast or recreate the atmospheric conditions over certain time periods and spatial resolutions. SWA scientists have done this for locations such as the Kanawha Valley of West Virginia (Pollution study) to the complex terrain regions of central California and Utah. From comparison with existing observations techniques we can learn a lot about the accuracy of the models as well as the validity of some of the newer measurement.