Evaluating the Detection of Mesoscale Outflow Boundaries Using Scatterometer Winds at Different Spatial Resolutions


Outflow boundaries induced by cold-pools are a key characteristic of convective systems related to microphysical and kinematic processes during the mature stage of their lifecycle. Over the ocean, such kinematic processes are associated with low-level wind modulations that are captured by scatterometers. This study investigates the ability of the Advanced Scatterometer (ASCAT) wind retrievals to detect the outflow boundary associated with an oceanic mesoscale convective system (MCS). Leveraging a new technique to identify cold pools that is based on features that enclose elevated magnitude of the gradient of the wind, termed as ‘Gradient Feature’ (GF), wind retrievals at 50-, 25- and 7-km spatial resolution were utilized to explore how the characteristics of the outflow boundary vary with resolution. Ground-based radar retrievals were also implemented to assess and correct, when possible, the performance of the ASCAT retrievals. The magnitude of the gradient of the wind for the coarser resolution was an order of magnitude smaller (10−4 s−1) than the finer ones (10−3 s−1). An increase in the magnitude of the gradient wind field associated with the outflow boundary was captured by all resolutions and a respective feature was identified by the GF method. The location of the features relative to the distance from the front edge of the MCS decreased with resolution, indicating the importance of the high resolution ASCAT product to capture their extent, as well as additional smaller scale features. The effect of the background wind field on the selection of the final wind field during the ambiguity removal process for the high-resolution product is also discussed.

Remote Sensing