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Matilde Nicolini, Yanina García Skabar and Paola Salio CIMA-DCAO-CONICET-UBA- SMN PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Mesoscale environments related to precipitation extremes and severe events in convective situations over SESA, their simulation with high resolution models. Matilde Nicolini, Yanina García Skabar and Paola Salio CIMA-DCAO-CONICET-UBA- SMN

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Matilde Nicolini, Yanina García Skabar and Paola Salio CIMA-DCAO-CONICET-UBA- SMN

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Mesoscale environments related to precipitation extremes and severe events in convective situations over SESA, their simulation with high resolution models.

Matilde Nicolini,

Yanina García Skabar and Paola Salio


2ND MEETING OF IFAECI (UMI 3351) Buenos Aires. Argentina

April 2011

Current Objectives:

investigate the mechanisms controlling deep moist convection in the north-central domain of Argentina and to focus on short range prediction of these mechanisms.

improve short range mesoscale numerical prediction with emphasis in different forcings of convection, from two different strategies: an explicit deterministic prediction of convection with high resolution and an ensemble forecast that allows a probabilistic approach.


  • Diurnal cycle in convergence patterns in the boundary layer east of the Andes and convection

  • Discussion of the BRAMS simulation of a flash-flood convective event

  • Discussion of the BRAMS forecast performance and sensitivity experiments in a squall line event

  • Present and Future work

Diurnal cycle in convergence patterns in the boundary layer east of the Andes and convection


To progress in the study of the mechanisms that control the diurnal cycle of precipitation and convection in subtropical latitudes east of the Andes during summer


If nocturnal convergence in the boundary layer exists over the broad valleys east of the Andes then it may be efficient in triggering or intensifying deep moist convection -that may have started earlier during the afternoon if moisture is available and conditional instability prevails-.


SALLJEX was performed in Southeastern South America from November 15, 2002 to February 15, 2003 to monitor, quantify and analyze the low-level circulation over this region and its related precipitation. Enriched analyses were generated ingesting all available data with a higher spatial and temporal resolution than that available for the region, following a downscaling methodology, using Brazilian Regional Atmospheric Modeling System (BRAMS,

To identify the convective systems and their life cycle IR brightness temperature data was employed at half hourly intervals with a horizontal resolution of 4km over the area between 10ºS-40ºS and 40ºW- 75ºW, data online at

The present study is organized around a two weeks long period (since January 24 up to February 7/2003) during SALLJEX that followed a cold incursion and during which different environmental conditions prevailed.

BRAMS was applied to obtain analysis every three hours, with a horizontal resolution of 80 km covering mostly South America and an enhanced inner domain with 20 km resolution for the region encompassing Central and Northern Argentina, southern Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay and Uruguay

20 km

80 km


¿Are the 20 km resolutionenriched analyses with SALLJEX data capable to reproduce a diurnal cycle of convergence/divergence and rising/subsiding motions at the top of the boundary layer, that may be related to a northwestern mountains-central plain flow regime?


¿To which extent these circulations are sufficient by themselves to support deep convection or else other ABL circulation patterns as the east of the Andes low-level jet are more effective depending on the synoptic situation?

The study period was characterized by two different main synoptic conditions:

January 24 to 30:persistent anticyclonic circulation(intensified South Atlantic Convergence Zone, SACZ) and a quasi-stationary front at the southern border of the domain. Subsidence and diabatic warming in the subtropical boundary layer favored relatively dry conditions over central Argentina.

January 31 to February 7: extreme heat wave with a weak SACZ and the presence of an intense thermal low over northwestern Argentina enhancing a northerly flow and coherently the presence of theeast of the Andes low-level jet (SALLJ). Warm and moist horizontal advection dominated over Argentina.

Anticyclonic situation

SALLJ dominated situation

During anticyclonic conditions

Average ABL conv/div in the area shows that mesoscale zonal circulations (mountain/broad plain) dominate over meridional circulations in the average total convergence values at night and divergence dominates in the afternoon.

Moisture and/or zonal convergence are not enough to support both nocturnal and daytime convection over the northern plains. Southward (35S), convection is triggered in the evening and intensified at night forced by a quasi-stationary frontal zone (not shown in the figures).

During strong and shifted to the south SALLJ

Average ABL conv/div in the area shows that meridional circulation (more efficient to advect moisture) dominates (over zonal circulations) convergence values at night while zonal circulation dominates the divergence in the afternoon over the plains.

Higher moisture values during this period and convergence related to a propagating frontal zone are efficient to trigger convection in the afternoonat 35S (even if mean zonal divergence dominates in the area). It propagates northward and intensifies during night in a domain dominated by meridional convergence related to the SALLJ.

Both the patterns of divergence related to ABL mesoscale circulations and deep convection present a nocturnal phase in their diurnal cycles.

Mesoscale circulations are altered once deep convective circulations dominate over the plains.




Mesoscale circulations east of the Andes

Mountain-plain breeze

Diurnal cycle

Nicolini, M., Garcia Skabar, Y., (2010)



BRAMS 3.2 Brazilian Regional Atmospheric Modeling System version 3.2

Simulation period : March 2007 from 25 to 31 at 12UTC

Two-way grid interactive nesting technique

Number of atmospheric levels: 30;

vertical cordinate: shaved eta

Horizontal Resolution: Grid 1 - 50 km Grid 2 - 12.5 km, Grid 3 - 3.125 km

GDAS analyses from NOAA/NCEP as initial and boundary conditions.Model includes topography data (1km resolution)

terrain land use (1km resolution), soil types (50km resolution), weekly sea surface temperaturesdaily soil moisture heterogeneous fields from USP/CPTECParameterizations:

Shallow cumulus:Sousa and Silva;

Deep convection: Grell; Explicit convection on Grid 2 and 3

Radiative: Chen and Cotton;

Horizontal diffusion:Smagorinsky;

Vertical diffusion: Mellor-Yamada;

Microphysics: 8 water species, bulk water scheme


To describe the synoptic and mesoscale environment with particular emphasis in the relationship convective precipitation/ LLJ.

To evaluate BRAMS performance in simulating an extreme rainfall situation

Observed precipitation over central Argentina, CMORPH (blue) and models forecast by (red and yellow) different grids accumulated between March 26 to 31, 2007. Grid 2 represents the precipitation forecast for 12.5 km and Grid 3 for 3.125 km respectively.

Synoptic Forcing

Meridional wind at 30S

Equivalent potential temperature

200 hPa Streamlines

and wind intensity

Vertically Integrated Moisture flux and its convergence

Temporal Evolution of GPS-Precipitable water

Convective and Stratiform Precipitation estimated by the CMORPH and IR area and the relationship with the LLJ

Stratiform and convective estimated precipitation for all systems that affect the central region of Argentina between March 25 to April 1, 2007 (green and purple). Meridional wind at 30ºS averaged between 63 and 58ºW and its ageostrophic component (pink and blue respectively) calculated from grid 3.



To progress in theforecast of MCS events and specifically to evaluate the performance of BRAMS forecast andstudy the sensitivityto different initial conditions, horizontal and vertical resolution and settings on cloud microphysics schemein a pre-frontal squall line event.

Case study:

During early morning of January 12, 2010 an extended convective line developed in association with a cold front that propagated over the central and northern part of Buenos Aires Province, Argentina.


  • 12 Numerical forecasts of the case study were performed using the Brazilian model Regional Atmospheric Modeling System (BRAMS), reaching a horizontal resolution of around 2km, using different initial conditions, horizontal and vertical resolution and settings on cloud microphysics scheme.

  • Model forecast performance was evaluated against measurements from radar, disdrometer, CMORPH estimations (8km-30min) and surface observations.

  • ETA-SMN forecast initialized 11 January at 12UTC was used as initial and boundary conditions.

  • Convection parameterizations is turned off in 8 and 2 km resolution

  • Microphysics parameterizations with 8 water species and bulk water scheme

    following Walko et al, 1995.

  • Current experimental forecast BRAMS 4.2

    setting at National Weather Service

  • 50 vertical levels (20 m near surface)

  • Model forecast performed for 18 hours,

    from 18 UTC to 12 UTC of next day

    initialized with a 6 hours ETA model forecast

  • Both mixing ratio and number concentration species

    are predicted

Comparison against radar data squall line reflectivity evolution at 3 KM.

Forecasts CAPPI

Ensemble FCST 07 Ezeiza Radar

All forecasts present a squall line reflectivity pattern similar to radar observations but forecasts depict larger reflectivity values, compared with Ezeiza radar that has a tendency to underestimation.

Comparison against CMORPH estimations

8KM 30 min resolution

Area with accumulated precipitation >15mm/30min

Comparison against disdrometer accumulative Precipitation 10 min

Surface automatic stations

Pergamino San PedroBoedo-Bs.As.

Obs FCST07


2m Temperature

10min acc. Precipitation

Wind Speed 10m

2m Temperature

10min acc. Precipitation

Wind Speed 10m

Ongoing research…

Case studies approach

  • Evaluate the performance of the model in capturing the forcing mechanisms in different scales that determine the timing, location, convective mode and propagational characteristics in different case studies, with emphasis in extreme cases.

  • Some cases may be strongly forced by synoptic features like the example of the pre-frontal squall line but others may be controled by contrasts in surface physiography (topography, vegetation, soil moisture) or by storms-generated outflow boundaries.


  • It is essential to advance on Radar calibration and improve reflectivity estimation from forecast variables, using algorithms that include mixing ratio as well as number concentration for the different microphysical species.

  • Also to develop an objective and appropiate methodology to validate high resolution forecasts.

  • There are observational demands for increased mesoscale data (raingauge and conventional surface stations, rawinsonde, Doppler radars) over Argentina for future improvement of high resolution models.

  • Parameterization of planetary boundary layer and microphysical processes need further testing given their control in convection initiation and evolution

Some questions to be answered:

  • Is the genesis of convection related to topographical features such as convergence zones or mountain/plains solenoids?→accurate representation of topography and of surface characteristics?

  • Is the spacing of 2 km small enough to resolve: convection, LLJ strength, timing and location?

  • Is the model accurately initialized with soil moisture contrasts that may favor formation of drylines and therefore cloud development during early stages of the simulation?

  • Does higher resolution lead to greater skill of convective characteristics and of quantitative precipitation forecast?

  • Is there any improvement in the prediction of precipitation at the exit region of the LLJ and their diurnal cycle respect to regional models?

CHUVA Project

Leader: Luiz Agusto Toledo Machado


Sites for the field campaign

New experiment at Foz de Iguazu

From 10-2012 to 1-2013

Cloud processes of tHe main precipitation systems in Brazil: A contribUtion to cloud resolVing modeling and to the GPM (GlobAl Precipitation Measurement)

Scientific questions:

How to estimate rainfall from warm and deep clouds?

What is the contribution of rain from warm clouds to the total precipitation in different regions of Brazil?

How to improve both space and time precipitation estimation of rainfall over the continent for the GPM constellation?

What are the average characteristics (3D - cloud processes) of the main regimes of precipitation in Brazil?

What is the contribution of the aerosol in the process of formation of precipitation?

What are the main surface and boundary layer processes in the formation and maintenance of clouds?

How cloud microphysics and electrification processes evolves during the cloud life cycle?

How to improve precipitation estimation and cloud microphysics description by using conventional and polarimetric radar?


The following instruments will compose the typical instrumentation pack to be used in the field


1. Dual Polarization Doppler X band radar (see figure 4)

2. EZ Lidar ALS450 (see Figure 4)

3. Microwave Radiometer MP3000 (see Figure 4)

4. 6 Laser Disdrometer (Figure 5)

5. 3 Meteorological Surface Stations

6. 2 Field Mill - Campbell

7. Radiosonde RS-92

8. Turbulent fluxes of heat and moisture

9. GPS Station

10. Soil Moisture

11. Airplane equipped with cloud microphysical instrumentation (only some campaigns)

12. Rain gauges

13. CCD cameras

14. Vertical pointing radar – micro rain radar (Figure 6)

15. Low-light Level CCD cameras

Satellites images: NOAA, TRMM, Megha-Tropique, AQUA, GOES and MSG

CPTEC analysis

Radiosondes from Brazilian network

Surface Station (raingauge)

Brasildat network - Brazilian lightning detection network):

STARNET (South American lightning network) -

At some sites the basic pack information will be complemented by others instruments available like

X Band dual polarization and Doppler radar (Alcântara)

1S-Band Doppler radar (Belém, Manaus, Curitiba, São Roque, Pelotas and Fortaleza)

Micrometeorological Tower (Maranhão- Amazonas – Santa Maria) 4

San Luis

Long Period

Dry region

40 stations

Salto Grande –

Long Period

140 stations

Probability Density Functions

Probability Density Functions

Bias Score

Bias Score


  • All members of the ensemble forecast represent a squall line reflectivity pattern similar to the observed by the radar, but more intense and predicted approximately two hours later. This same delay was observed in ETA SMN forecasts that were used as initial and boundary conditions.

  • Sensitivity to different initial conditions, horizontal and vertical resolution and settings on cloud microphysics scheme were identified.

  • It is difficult to define which forecast is better or worse, it depends on the focus of interest. Different results are achieved depending on the variables, pp thresholds, vertical levels, times.

Environment associated with deep moist convection under SALLJ conditions: a case study

Vertical cross section of potential temperature wind barbs and meridional component of the wind at 25°S. All panels cover a longitudinal range from 65°W to 54°W, at 3 h apart

Borque et al., 2010, Wea. and For. Vol. 25, 3970–986

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