Recent projects conducted by ATDD scientists have focused on a number of issues affecting severe weather forecasting, long-term climate observation, accurate measurement of frozen precipitation and air-surface fluxes of energy, water and carbon.
Many previous studies have focused on tornado formation over the Great Plains of the U. S., but relatively little research has been conducted on this topic over the southeastern U. S. In the Southeast, land surface characteristics differ considerably from the Great Plains, including more variable terrain and larger and denser forested areas. These characteristics can impact the development, structure and intensity of thunderstorms and tornados and make forecasting of tornadoes more difficult in this area. ATDD scientists participate in large-scale measurement campaigns to better understand the processes of tornado formation in the Southeast.
Forecasting when and where thunderstorms will occur is a challenging meteorological problem. Improving the representation of thunderstorm initiation processes in weather forecast computer models requires high temporal resolution meteorological measurements, intensive field experiments, and state-of-the-art high-resolution computer models of the atmosphere. ATDD researchers hope that these investigations lead to better thunderstorm forecasts and more timely warnings of impending severe weather.
The lack of high quality surface measurements of precipitation and air temperature historically has hampered the ability of climate scientists to fully characterize U. S. national and regional climate signals with confidence. High precision climate monitoring networks installed and operated by ATDD provide the U. S. with a benchmark observing system for real-time measurements of air temperature and precipitation that meets national commitments to monitor the climate of the U.S. for the next 50–100 years.
Precipitation measurements of snow are subject to large errors, especially in cold and windy conditions. These errors are dependent on the weather, the shielding surrounding the precipitation sensor, and the type of sensor used to measure precipitation. Using measurements from around the world, corrections are being developed by ATDD researchers that can be used to estimate the actual amount of precipitation for the most prevalent precipitation gauges used within the U.S. and abroad.
Surface Energy Balance Network
The NOAA/ATDD Surface Energy Balance Network (SEBN) supports NOAA’s mission of providing high-value routine measurements of surface energy, water and carbon budgets along with other climate variables in regional vegetation systems across the continental United States. Data from SEBN can be used to improve land surface model parameterizations in computer models of weather and climate and improve our understanding of the critical land surface processes that control seasonal and annual water and carbon budgets for various ecosystem types.
ATDD operates a permanent forest micrometeorology research station at the Chestnut Ridge Environmental Study site, located on the U. S. Department of Energy reservation near Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The site hosts a 60 m tower that extends 20 meters above the top of the surrounding predominately oak-hickory forest. The tower supports a variety of environmental and atmospheric measurements related to air-surface exchange between a deciduous forest canopy and the lower atmosphere.