Special Issue "Simulation and Visualization of Severe Weather"

A special issue of Atmosphere (ISSN 2073-4433). This special issue belongs to the section "Meteorology".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2019) | Viewed by 22672

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Leigh Orf
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI 53706, USA
Interests: supercomputing; tornadoes; supercell thunderstorms; downbursts; numerical weather prediction; analyzing and visualizing big data; volume rendering; lossy data compression

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Each year, severe weather causes loss of life, destruction of property, and the disruption of society across the globe. Tropical cyclones, thunderstorms and the tornadoes they spawn, blizzards, and the flash-flooding associated with deep moist convection cause billions of dollars of damage annually. Our ability to warn the public of severe weather events such as these has improved, but further advances in forecasting are hindered by both a lack of physical understanding, as well as a lack of timely, accurate, and complete observational data.

In this Special Issue, we solicit contributions involving the numerical simulation and visualization of severe weather events. Rapid advances in computing hardware topologies have made it possible to simulate weather systems at unprecedented resolution, revealing fine-scaled features that elucidate the physical processes underlying severe weather events. Moreover, modern supercomputing infrastructures enable researchers to conduct ensembles of high resolution simulations that can provide valuable statistical information well-beyond what a single simulation can provide. These advances have created the need for new programming and analysis approaches that efficiently utilize massively parallel hardware topologies containing a mixture of CPUs and GPUs. We welcome submissions that showcase the use of modern computing hardware to both simulate severe weather events, as well as visualize the simulated data in ways that provide meaning and scientific insight.

Dr. Leigh Orf
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Atmosphere is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • numerical simulation
  • visualization of severe weather
  • massively parallel supercomputing
  • graphical processing units (GPUs)
  • managing big data
  • tornadoes
  • supercell thunderstorms
  • downbursts
  • tropical cyclones
  • extratropical cyclones
  • floods

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

Article
Horizontal Vortex Tubes near a Simulated Tornado: Three-Dimensional Structure and Kinematics
Atmosphere 2019, 10(11), 716; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos10110716 - 16 Nov 2019
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 5489
Abstract
Supercell thunderstorms can produce a wide spectrum of vortical structures, ranging from midlevel mesocyclones to small-scale suction vortices within tornadoes. A less documented class of vortices are horizontally-oriented vortex tubes near and/or wrapping about tornadoes, that are observed either visually or in high-resolution [...] Read more.
Supercell thunderstorms can produce a wide spectrum of vortical structures, ranging from midlevel mesocyclones to small-scale suction vortices within tornadoes. A less documented class of vortices are horizontally-oriented vortex tubes near and/or wrapping about tornadoes, that are observed either visually or in high-resolution Doppler radar data. In this study, an idealized numerical simulation of a tornadic supercell at 100 m grid spacing is used to analyze the three-dimensional (3D) structure and kinematics of horizontal vortices (HVs) that interact with a simulated tornado. Visualizations based on direct volume rendering aided by visual observations of HVs in a real tornado reveal the existence of a complex distribution of 3D vortex tubes surrounding the tornadic flow throughout the simulation. A distinct class of HVs originates in two key regions at the surface: around the base of the tornado and in the rear-flank downdraft (RFD) outflow and are believed to have been generated via surface friction in regions of strong horizontal near-surface wind. HVs around the tornado are produced in the tornado outer circulation and rise abruptly in its periphery, assuming a variety of complex shapes, while HVs to the south-southeast of the tornado, within the RFD outflow, ascend gradually in the updraft. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Simulation and Visualization of Severe Weather)
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Article
A Violently Tornadic Supercell Thunderstorm Simulation Spanning a Quarter-Trillion Grid Volumes: Computational Challenges, I/O Framework, and Visualizations of Tornadogenesis
Atmosphere 2019, 10(10), 578; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos10100578 - 25 Sep 2019
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 4251
Abstract
Tornadoes remain an active subject of observational and numerical research due to the damage and fatalities they cause worldwide as well as poor understanding of their behavior, such as what processes result in their genesis and what determines their longevity and morphology. A [...] Read more.
Tornadoes remain an active subject of observational and numerical research due to the damage and fatalities they cause worldwide as well as poor understanding of their behavior, such as what processes result in their genesis and what determines their longevity and morphology. A numerical model executed on a supercomputer run at high resolution can serve as a powerful tool for exploring the rapidly evolving tornado-scale features within a simulated storm, but saving large amounts data for meaningful analysis can result in unacceptably slow model performance, an unwieldy amount of saved data, and saved data spread across millions of files. In this paper, a system for efficiently saving and managing hundreds of terabytes of compressed model output is described to support a supercomputer simulation of a tornadic supercell thunderstorm. The challenges of managing a simulation spanning over a quarter-trillion grid volumes across the Blue Waters supercomputer are also described. The simulated supercell produces a long-track EF5 tornado, and the near-tornado environment is described during tornadogenesis, where single upward-growing vortex undergoes several vortex mergers before transitioning into a multiple-vortex tornado. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Simulation and Visualization of Severe Weather)
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Article
Vortex Identification across Different Scales
Atmosphere 2019, 10(9), 518; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos10090518 - 04 Sep 2019
Viewed by 3096
Abstract
Vortex identification in atmospheric data remains a challenge. One reason is the general presence of shear throughout the atmosphere that interferes with traditional vortex identification methods based on geopotential height or vorticity. Alternatively, kinematic methods can avoid some of the drawbacks of the [...] Read more.
Vortex identification in atmospheric data remains a challenge. One reason is the general presence of shear throughout the atmosphere that interferes with traditional vortex identification methods based on geopotential height or vorticity. Alternatively, kinematic methods can avoid some of the drawbacks of the traditional methods since they compare the rotational and deformational flow parts. In this work, we apply the kinematic vorticity number method ( W k -method) to atmospheric datasets ranging from the synoptic to the convective scales. The W k -method is tested for winter storm Kyrill, a high-impact extratropical cyclone that affected Germany in January 2007. This case is especially challenging for vortex identification methods since it produced a complex wind occurrence associated with a derecho along a narrow cold-frontal rain band and an area of high winds close to the low pressure center. The W k -method is able to identify vortices in differently-resolved datasets and at different height levels in a consistent manner. Additionally, it is able to determine and visualize the storm characteristics. As a result, we discovered that the total positive circulation of the vortices associated with Kyrill remains of similar order across different data sets though the vorticity magnitude of the most intense vortices increases with increasing resolution. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Simulation and Visualization of Severe Weather)
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Article
A Numerical Study of Aerosol Effects on Electrification with Different Intensity Thunderclouds
Atmosphere 2019, 10(9), 508; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos10090508 - 30 Aug 2019
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1797
Abstract
Numerical simulations are performed to investigate the effect of varying CCN (cloud condensation nuclei) concentration on dynamic, microphysics, electrification, and charge structure in weak, moderate, and severe thunderstorms. The results show that the response of electrification to the increase of CCN concentration is [...] Read more.
Numerical simulations are performed to investigate the effect of varying CCN (cloud condensation nuclei) concentration on dynamic, microphysics, electrification, and charge structure in weak, moderate, and severe thunderstorms. The results show that the response of electrification to the increase of CCN concentration is a nonlinear relationship in different types of thunderclouds. The increase in CCN concentration leads to a significant enhancement of updraft in the weak thunderclouds, while the high CCN concentration in moderate and severe thunderclouds leads to a slight reduction in maximum updraft speed. The increase of the convection promotes the lift of more small cloud droplets, which leads to a faster and stronger production of ice crystals. The production of graupel is insensitive to the CCN concentration. The content of graupel increases from low CCN concentration to moderate CCN concentration, and slightly decreases at high CCN concentration, which arises from the profound enhancement of small ice crystals production. When the intensity of thundercloud increases, the reduction of graupel production will arise in advance as the CCN concentration increases. Charge production tends to increase as the aerosol concentration rises from low to high in weak and moderate thundercloud cases. However, the magnitude of charging rates in the severe thundercloud cases keeps roughly stable under the high CCN concentration condition, which can be attributed to the profound reduction of graupel content. The charge structure in the weak thundercloud at low CCN concentrations keeps as a dipole, while the weak thunderclouds in the other cases (the CCN concentration above 100 cm−3) change from a dipole charge structure to a tripole charge structure, and finally disappear with a dipole. In cases of moderate and severe intensity thunderclouds, the charge structure depicts a relatively complex structure that includes a multilayer charge region. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Simulation and Visualization of Severe Weather)
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Article
VAPOR: A Visualization Package Tailored to Analyze Simulation Data in Earth System Science
Atmosphere 2019, 10(9), 488; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos10090488 - 25 Aug 2019
Cited by 37 | Viewed by 4767
Abstract
Visualization is an essential tool for analysis of data and communication of findings in the sciences, and the Earth System Sciences (ESS) are no exception. However, within ESS, specialized visualization requirements and data models, particularly for those data arising from numerical models, often [...] Read more.
Visualization is an essential tool for analysis of data and communication of findings in the sciences, and the Earth System Sciences (ESS) are no exception. However, within ESS, specialized visualization requirements and data models, particularly for those data arising from numerical models, often make general purpose visualization packages difficult, if not impossible, to use effectively. This paper presents VAPOR: a domain-specific visualization package that targets the specialized needs of ESS modelers, particularly those working in research settings where highly-interactive exploratory visualization is beneficial. We specifically describe VAPOR’s ability to handle ESS simulation data from a wide variety of numerical models, as well as a multi-resolution representation that enables interactive visualization on very large data while using only commodity computing resources. We also describe VAPOR’s visualization capabilities, paying particular attention to features for geo-referenced data and advanced rendering algorithms suitable for time-varying, 3D data. Finally, we illustrate VAPOR’s utility in the study of a numerically- simulated tornado. Our results demonstrate both ease-of-use and the rich capabilities of VAPOR in such a use case. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Simulation and Visualization of Severe Weather)
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Article
Genesis, Maintenance and Demise of a Simulated Tornado and the Evolution of Its Preceding Descending Reflectivity Core (DRC)
Atmosphere 2019, 10(5), 236; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos10050236 - 01 May 2019
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2906
Abstract
This study demonstrates the capability of a cloud model in simulating a real-world tornado using observed radiosonde data that define a homogeneous background. A reasonable simulation of a tornado event in Beijing, China, on 21 July 2012 is obtained. The simulation reveals the [...] Read more.
This study demonstrates the capability of a cloud model in simulating a real-world tornado using observed radiosonde data that define a homogeneous background. A reasonable simulation of a tornado event in Beijing, China, on 21 July 2012 is obtained. The simulation reveals the evolution of a descending reflectivity core (DRC) that has commonalities with radar observations, which retracts upward right before tornadogenesis. Tornadogenesis can be divided into three steps: the downward development of mesocyclone vortex, the upward development of tornado vortex, and the eventual downward development of condensation funnel cloud. This bottom-up development provides a numerical evidence for the growing support for a bottom-up, rapid tornadogenesis process as revealed by the state-of-the-art mobile X-band phase-array radar observations. The evolution of the simulated tornado features two replacement processes of three near-surface vortices coupled with the same midlevel updraft. The first replacement occurs during the intensification of the tornado before its maturity. The second replacement occurs during the tornado’s demise, when the connection between the midlevel mesocyclone and the near-surface vortex is cut off by a strong downdraft. This work shows the potential of idealized tornado simulations and three-dimensional illustrations in investigating the spiral nature and evolution of tornadoes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Simulation and Visualization of Severe Weather)
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