Synergistic use of satellite observations and numerical weather model to study atmospheric occluded fronts

Xiaofeng Li, Xiaofeng Yang, Weizhong Zheng, Jun A. Zhang, Leonard J. Pietrafesa, William G. Pichel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Synthetic aperture radar (SAR) images reveal the surface imprints of atmospheric occluded fronts. An occluded front is characterized as a low-wind zone located between and within two zones of higher winds blowing in the opposite directions on the left and right sides of the occluded front. A group of four SAR images reveal that the width of an individual occluded frontal zone and the wind magnitudes outside fronts vary greatly from case to case. In this paper, we performed a case study to analyze an occluded front observed by an Environmental Satellite (Envisat) Advanced SAR and ASCAT scatterometer along the west coast of Canada on November 24, 2011. The two-way interactive, triply nested grid (9-3-1 km) Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model was utilized to simulate the evolution of the occluded front. The occluded front moved toward the east during a 24-h model simulation, and the movement between 18:00 and 21:00 UTC matched the occluded front positions derived from the concurrently collected surface weather maps; from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric National Weather Service archives. The WRF-simulated low-wind zone associated with the occluded front and ocean surface wind speed match well with the SAR and scatterometer wind retrievals. High wind outside the front zone became weaker during the front evolution, whereas the width of the occluded frontal zone was contracted laterally. Analysis of the WRF model derived potential temperature field suggests that the occlusion process occurred below the 800-mb level. The structure of the occluded front studied here not only follows the conventional conceptual model and also supports the findings of a novel wrap-up conceptual model for an atmospheric frontal occlusion process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7095555
Pages (from-to)5269-5279
Number of pages11
JournalIEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2015


  • Atmospheric modeling
  • sea surface
  • synthetic aperture radar (SAR)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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