Moving Mountains, Not Meteorology

If you attended the joint AMS conferences—on Applied Climatology and on Meteorological Observation and Instrumentation—held in the shadow of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains last week, you encountered the rich diversity of presentations encapsulating the topics that preoccupy specialists these days.
You heard lessons learned from using familiar tools of the trade, the latest news about new technology, ways of observing drought, impacts of El Niño, and principles of wildfire management.
There was much advice about communicating to the public about climate change, and about the scientific basis presented by the National Climate Assessment. You heard advice from the folks at Climate Central. You delved into how to handle information delivery in the duress of extreme events.
If you’ve moved on to California this week for the AMS Conference on Broadcast Meteorology at Squaw Valley, you enter a different world, right? From the dark, craggy jumble of Precambrian sediments, granite, and gneiss, you’re now surrounded by the pale glow of Sierra Nevada granite. And from scientists focused on research, now you’re in the realm of communicators bringing science to mass media.
So, you’ll hear lessons learned from using familiar tools of the trade, the latest news about new technology, ways of observing drought, impacts of El Niño, and principles of wildfire management.
There will be much advice about communicating to the public about climate change, and about the scientific basis presented by the National Climate Assessment. You’ll get some advice from the folks at Climate Central.  You’ll also delve into how to handle information delivery in the duress of extreme events.
Déjà vu? Copy-and-paste error?
No. For all the specializations and variations in interests that collectively constitute the American Meteorological Society, there’s a lot in common between even the seemingly disparate branches. The roots in science grow into all sorts of permutations. The mountains may shift, but that’s a mere backdrop for the constancy of meteorology and related sciences flourishing across the land.
Enjoy your meetings.

Vortex Delight


This Monday at the AMS Conference on Mountain Meteorology, Rieke Heinze of the Institut für Meteorologie und Klimatologie at the Leibniz Universität Hannover presented this very cool looking simulation of von Kármán vortex streets, which sometimes show up in satellite images of clouds in the lee of isolated mountain islands. The nifty thing about Heinze’s simulation project is that it shows the vortices retaining a warm core from bottom to top in the flow (cross section not shown here).
On her project web site (where you can download the video), Heinze writes:

Atmospheric vortex streets consist of two rows of counterrotating mesoscale eddies with vertical axis in the wake of large islands. They resemble classical Kármán vortex streets which occur in laboratory experiments behind a cylinder. Usually, atmospheric vortex streets can be found in the stratocumulus capped mixed layer over the ocean when there is a strong elevated inversion well below the island top.

In the animations the island consists of a single Gaussian shaped mountain with a height of about 1.3 km and a base diameter of about 12km. Particles are released in one layer and act as passive tracers. Their vertical motion is disabled. The colour of the particles reflects the difference between the temperature at the respective particle position and the mean temperature, horizontally averaged over the total domain. Blue/red colours represent a relatively low/high temperature. The animation shows that the cores of the eddies are warmer than the environment. The length of the animation corresponds to about 14h real time.