North American Supercell Environments in Atmospheric Reanalyses and RUC-2
Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology
A suite of modern atmospheric reanalyses is analyzed to determine how they represent North American supercell environments. This analysis is performed by comparing a database of Rapid Update Cycle (RUC-2) proximity soundings with profiles derived from the nearest grid point in each reanalysis. Parameters are calculated using the Sounding and Hodograph Analysis and Research Program in Python (SHARPpy), an open-source Python sounding-analysis package. Representation of supercell environments varies across the reanalyses, and the results have ramifications for climatological studies that use these datasets. In particular, thermodynamic parameters such as the convective available potential energy (CAPE) show the widest range in biases, with reanalyses falling into two camps. The North American Regional Reanalysis (NARR) and the Japanese 55-year Reanalysis (JRA-55) are similar to RUC-2, but other reanalyses have a substantial negative bias. The reasons for these biases vary and range from thermodynamic biases at the surface to evidence of convective contamination. Overall, it is found that thermodynamic biases feed back to other convective parameters that incorporate CAPE directly or indirectly via the effective layer. As a result, significant negative biases are found for indices such as the supercell composite parameter. These biases are smallest for NARR and JRA-55. Kinematic parameters are more consistent across the reanalyses. Given the issues with thermodynamic properties, better segregation of soundings by storm type is found for fixed-layer parameters than for effective-layer shear parameters. Although no reanalysis can exactly reproduce the results of earlier RUC-2 studies, many of the reanalyses can broadly distinguish between environments that are significantly tornadic versus nontornadic.
Austin T. King and Aaron Kennedy. "North American Supercell Environments in Atmospheric Reanalyses and RUC-2" (2019). Atmospheric Sciences Faculty Publications. 15.