A Spatial Pattern Analysis of Land Surface Roughness Heterogeneity and its Relationship to the Initiation of Weak Tornadoes
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A Spatial Pattern Analysis of Land Surface Roughness Heterogeneity and its Relationship to the Initiation of Weak Tornadoes
  • Published Date:

    2019

  • Source:
    Earth Interact. (2019) 23 (5): 1–28.
Filetype[PDF-3.88 MB]


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  • Description:
    North Alabama is among the most tornado-prone regions in the United States and is composed of more spatially variable terrain and land cover than the frequently studied North American Great Plains region. Because of the high tornado frequency observed across north Alabama, there is a need to understand how land surface roughness heterogeneity influences tornadogenesis, particularly for weak-intensity tornadoes. This study investigates whether horizontal gradients in land surface roughness exist surrounding locations of tornadogenesis for weak (EF0–EF1) tornadoes. The existence of the horizontal gradients could lead to the generation of positive values of the vertical components of the 3D vorticity vector near the surface that may aid in the tornadogenesis process. In this study, surface roughness was estimated using parameterizations from the Noah land surface model with inputs from MODIS 500-m and Landsat 30-m data. Spatial variations in the parameterized roughness lengths were assessed using GIS-based grid and quadrant pattern analyses to quantify observed variation of land surface features surrounding tornadogenesis locations across spatial scales. This analysis determined that statistically significant horizontal gradients in surface roughness exist surrounding tornadogenesis locations.
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