Use of radar chaff for studying circulations in and around shallow cumulus clouds

Eunsil Jung, Bruce Albrecht

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Circulations in and around cumulus clouds are inferred by using a passive tracer (radar chaff) and an airborne cloud radar during the Barbados Aerosol Cloud Experiment (BACEX). The radar chaff elements used for this experiment are fibers that are cut to a length of about 1/ 2 of the radar wavelength to maximize radar returns by serving as dipole antennas. The fibers are packed in fiber tubes and are mounted in a dispenser beneath the wing of the aircraft. The chaff was released near the tops and edges of a growing small cumulus cloud. The aircraft then made penetrations of the cloud at lower levels to observe the chaff signals above the aircraft with the zenith-pointing cloud radar. This study shows that the environmental air above the cloud top descends along the downshear side of the cloud edge and is subsequently entrained back into the same cloud near the observation level. The in-cloud flow follows an inverted letter P pattern. The merits and limitations of the chaff method for tracking circulations in and around small cumuli are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2058-2071
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2014


  • Clouds
  • Entrainment
  • Radars/Radar observations
  • Tracers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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