Cut-off low monitoring by the French VHF-ST-radar network during the ESTIME campaign

Caccia, J. -L. ; Bertin, F. ; Campistron, B. ; Klaus, V. ; Pointin, Y. ; van Baelen, J. ; Wilson, R.

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In order to investigate mesoscale strato-tropospheric exchanges, the field campaign ?Echanges Stratosphère-Troposphère: Investigations à Moyenne Echelle' was conducted in France from late 1993 to mid 1995 and focused on cut-off low events. It involved the French research network of five VHF (Very High Frequency) ST (Strato-Tropospheric) radars deployed in southern France. Observations corresponding to three Intensive Observing Periods are reported here. The radar data analyzed and discussed are time-height diagrams of the aspect ratio (AR), that is, the vertical to oblique beam-returned power ratio, used for monitoring three cut-off low events. In order to discuss the validity of the method, 506 h of radar AR data were compared with time-height diagrams of the static stability and the humidity obtained from synoptic European Center for Medium-range Weather Forecasts model analyses. A dataset corresponding to 297 h of observations is analyzed and discussed here. It is concluded that the AR is a good tracer to document cut-off low events, including tropopause folding identification and the detection of tropospheric air masses of enhanced stability, in dry or weakly humid cases. On the other hand, although the effects of the specific humidity and its gradients on VHF radar echo power could not be extensively investigated, our results suggest that the same parameter cannot be used at mid- and lower-tropospheric levels when the effects of specific humidity significantly reinforce the moist static stability. It is important to take into account these insights in the context of future observing campaigns in which a network of VHF-ST-radars will be involved, and where their role will be to observe and to document the evolution of upper-level features or potential vorticity streamers, or more generally stratospheric-tropospheric exchanges.
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