Collaborative Research: VORTEX2--Multi-Scale and Multi-Platform Study of Tornadoes, Supercell Thunderstorms, and Their Environments

Project: Research project

Project Details


The Principal Investigators (PIs) will conduct a multi-institution, integrated study encompassing several core science foci of the second Verification of the Origin of Rotation in Tornadoes Experiment (VORTEX2) to be held in 2009. In support of this research, and in support of the overall VORTEX2 program, the PIs will field several core VORTEX2 instrumentation systems. The field-project and analysis effort will permit the coordinated collection of multi-platform measurements and their integrated analysis. The diverse data sets will result from fixed and mobile radars, mobile mesonets, and in situ instrumentation with the goal of developing a more comprehensive scientific understanding of the genesis, maintenance, and structure of tornadoes and supercells and their relationship to the environment. This study will combine integrated analyses with those of less comprehensive data from over 130 tornadoes obtained during the Radar Observations of Thunderstorms And Tornadoes Experiment (ROTATE) program (1996-2007).

Scientific Motivation and Intellectual Merit: Current level of understanding in several areas of tornado science fails to provide answers to fundamental questions including the true range of sizes, intensities, and structures of tornadoes. The factors governing the occurrence and timing of tornado genesis, growth, intensification, maintenance, and dissipation, as well as the modes of genesis, are hypothesized from previous work, but remain largely unvalidated observationally, as do details concerning vertical wind field profiles, and the evolution and structure of damaging winds near the ground. The specific role of downdrafts in tornadogenesis and the sensitivity of the tornadogenesis process to microphysical and thermodynamic characteristics are not known. Thus, while significant advances have been made in addressing many of these questions using data from the original VORTEX and from ROTATE; these results have been limited. Specifically, VORTEX2 will provide an integration of multiple-Doppler mobile radar data with comprehensive in situ thermodynamic data that has not been achieved previously.

Broader Impacts: Improved understanding of tornado genesis, maintenance, structure, and environmental dependencies will have a broad impact on the ability to detect, warn, and forecast these severe events and to reduce subsequent casualties. The fielding of mobile Doppler radars, mobile mesonets, and in situ thermodynamic probes will be led by the PIs. These datasets will be available to the scientific community for both scientific and educational purposes and are likely to be extensively used by a large number of investigators and educators.

Effective start/end date6/1/085/31/13


  • National Science Foundation: $1,014,259.00


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