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Atmospheric Kelvin–Helmholtz billows captured by the MU radar, lidars and a fish-eye camera

Abstract : On June 11, 2015, a train of large-amplitude Kelvin-Helmholtz (KH) billows was monitored by the Middle and Upper Atmosphere (MU) radar (Shigaraki MU Observatory, Japan) at the altitude of ~ 6.5 km. Four to five KH billows in formation and decay stages were observed for about 20 min at the height of a strong speed shear (> ~ 30 m s −1 km −1), just a few hundred meters above a mid-level cloud base. The turbulent billows had a spacing of about 3.5-4.0 km (3.71 km in average) and an aspect ratio (depth/spacing) of ~ 0.3. The turbulence kinetic energy dissipation rate estimated was of the order of 10-50 mWkg −1 , corresponding to moderate turbulence according to ICAO (2010) classification. By chance, an upward-looking fish-eye camera producing pictures once every minute detected smooth protuberances at the cloud base caused by the KH billows so that comparisons of their characteristics could be made for the first time between the radar observations and the pictures. The main characteristics of the KH wave (horizontal wavelength, phase front direction and phase speed) obtained from the analysis of the pictures were fully consistent with those found from radar data. The pictures indicated that the billows were advected by the wind observed at the height of the critical level. They also revealed a very small transverse extent (about twice the horizontal spacing) suggesting that the large-amplitude KH billows were generated by a very localized source. Micro-pulse lidar and Raman-Rayleigh-Mie lidar data also collected during the event permitted us to confirm some of the characteristics of the billows.
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Hubert Luce, Lakshmi Kantha, Masanori Yabuki, Hiroyuki Hashiguchi. Atmospheric Kelvin–Helmholtz billows captured by the MU radar, lidars and a fish-eye camera. Earth Planets and Space, Springer/Terra Scientific Publishing Company, 2018, 70 (1), ⟨10.1186/s40623-018-0935-0⟩. ⟨hal-02024269⟩

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