NWS Jacksonville » Local Research » The Jacksonville Area Sea Breeze EXperiment (JASBEX) 95

The Jacksonville Area Sea Breeze EXperiment (JASBEX) 95: Putting Together a Cooperative Data Gathering Experiment on the Sea Breeze of the Atlantic coast of Florida and Georgia

A. Sandrik, P. Welsh, B. Ives

The Jacksonville Area Sea Breeze EXperiment (JASBEX) was conducted as a cooperative data gathering effort to build a database for analysis of the sea breeze in Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia. Several federal, state, and local agencies, two universities, and many local volunteers cooperated and pooled available resources to participate. The entire planning and operational phase took place during a six month effort, culminating in a one month field project from 23 July to 25 August 1995 at selected sites along the east coast areas of Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia. This region was selected to include over 25 sites within and near the future warning area assigned to the new NEXRAD Weather Service Office Jacksonville,FL (NWSO JAX), a brand new WSR-88D Doppler radar facility near the international airport at Jacksonville, Florida, as well as several Navy and Navy Reserve meteorological units, and the Florida Air National Guard meteorological training unit. From the academic side, both Jacksonville University and Florida State University participated in JASBEX. Many local volunteers also participated in JASBEX.

The number of cooperatively participating DOD, NWS, and civilian trained observers was sufficient for a 24 site local mesoscale observation network and 3 teams of student observers to record surface observations at coastal sites. Unique to this experiment were the combination of recording and conversion of pilot balloon raw data to vertical wind profiles, electronic data entry of the entire manually recorded portion of the dataset, and daily precipitation estimates from the new WSR-88D Doppler radar. Some of the data were recorded from remote sensors by electronic means and were directly input into the electronic dataset, but the majority of the data was manually recorded. The surface data was manually recorded on paper forms at ten primary reporting sites and at eight augmenting sites. Of the eight augmenting sites, five were manned by Naval Reserve personnel and three were manned by Jacksonville University students under the Partners Project grant. Pilot balloon data was recorded at three of the augmenting sites, and the data was converted to vertical wind profile data by Jacksonville University and Florida State University students under a COMET Partners Project grant.

These JASBEX activities filled an important gap in the modern datasets available for sea breeze studies. Currently, mesoscale modeling efforts are underway at Florida State University and Navy sites with the JASBEX dataset.

Jacksonville Area Sea Breeze EXperiment (JASBEX) 95

1.0 Scope of Activities Completed

The Jacksonville Area Sea Breeze EXperiment (JASBEX) was conducted as planned. The entire operational phase took place during a one month field project from 23 July to 25 August 1996 at selected sites along the east coast areas of Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia. This region was selected to include over 25 sites within and near the future warning area assigned to the new NEXRAD Weather Service Office (NWSO JAX), a brand new WSR-88D Doppler radar facility near the international airport at Jacksonville, Florida.

The specific activities funded under the COMET Partners Project proposal included the augmentation of the data collection sites with 3 teams of student observers to record surface observations at coastal sites, conversion of pilot balloon raw data to vertical wind profiles, and electronic data entry of the entire manually recorded portion of the dataset. Some of the data were recorded from remote sensors by electronic means and were directly input into the electronic dataset, but the majority of the data was manually recorded. The surface data was manually recorded on paper forms at ten primary reporting sites and at eight augmenting sites. Of the eight augmenting sites, five were manned by Naval Reserve personnel and three were manned by Jacksonville University students under the Partners Project grant. Pilot balloon data was recorded on paper at three of the augmenting sites, and the data was converted to vertical wind profile data by a Jacksonville University student under the COMET Partners Project as well.

The electronic data entry portion of the Partners Project grant work included data entry for the eighteen manually recorded sites into a personal computer spreadsheet program and file conversion of the electronic data into the spreadsheet as well. This format was chosen to allow easier future access to any portion of the dataset for future numerical modeling of the sea breeze.

The COMET Partners Project activities filled important gaps in the data gathering portion of JASBEX, and greatly enhanced the overall value of the dataset by its conversion to an electronic format.

1.1 JASBEX Overview

The site(s) at which the data were collected was determined by the number of trained observing personnel, available sensors, logistically suitable field locations, and funding resources to procure additional student help. Preplanning for this experiment included the evaluation of human and equipment resources available among existing area agencies. At a meeting held at the NWSO JAX facility to explore this concept, representatives of NWS, Contract observing sites, and DOD facilities in the region reported surprisingly good outlooks for this project. The number of cooperatively participating DOD, NWS, and civilian trained observers was sufficient for a 24 site local network. This lead to additional meetings and site visits to investigate the logistic details of the proposed site list. Simultaneously, funding from external sources was investigated, proposals were drafted, and needs coordinated among the participants.

There was a unique spirit of cooperation engendered among and across lines of several governmental activities. Participants included organizations from Federal Agencies (Commerce, DOD, Transportation, and Interior), State Agencies (Florida Air National Guard, St. Johns River Water Management District) , the participating Universities (Jacksonville University and Florida State University) and many individual volunteers.

This project was intended as a pilot study to determine the best method to conduct a voluntary cooperative field program on a sub-regional scale. To focus the investigation, two major scientific objectives were established:

(1) To investigate the Atlantic Bight sea breeze regime, and its effect on convective initiation.

(2) To ground truth the new WSR-88D Doppler radar algorithms and their tunable parameters in the Atlantic Bight region.

The need for this study is established by recent work by Ken Gould (1993 M.S.thesis, Florida State University) using the Melbourne Florida Doppler Radar data, and the CAPE project as reported by NASA Contractor Report 4537 entitled A Study of the Merritt Island, Florida Sea Breeze Flow Regimes and their Effect on Surface Heat and Moisture Fluxes (July 1993).

Related work by COMET post-doctoral fellow (Chris Herbster, FSU and CITM) involves the modeling of the sea breeze in the North Florida region, and compliments this pilot data gathering and analysis program. This body of recent work raises some interesting questions regarding the limits of our current understanding of the sea breeze, its dynamics, and its mesoscale interactions with preexisting boundaries and flows. National plans to provide guidance to local forecasters from synoptic scale models enhanced to grid scales of the order of 10 km may later be found to be lacking in validity for such reasons.

2.0 Project Timeline and Work Description

There were five phases to the proposed research which were broken down by the functional activities to be performed and are described in the following section along with those activities which were actually completed. The COMET Partners Project supported Jacksonville University students who participated in phases two, three and four of the data collection for JASBEX. Partners Project supported students from Jacksonville University were also the primary participants in the data reduction phase of JASBEX.

Phase 1 Planning and Coordination Phase

Dates: 1 April -- 30 May 95

Work required prior to the Intensive Operations Period (IOP) was completed on a some what compressed schedule since it primarily involved identifying and scheduling the available human assets from the participating agencies. This was accomplished smoothly though at a later time than originally planned. This also impacted the number of sites, although the final gathering of the necessary permissions, logistical arrangements and hardware acquisition, and even suitable reservations and accommodations for the project personnel were easy by comparison. All these required intensive liaison necessary in a cooperative project, but were completed in time for the operational periods. During this phase the bulk of the Office of Naval Research and National Weather Service requested equipment funding was committed to hardware and support requirements for additional field teams.

Phase 2 Project Time Phasing and Schedule Preparation

Dates: 1 June 95-- 15 June 95

Student helpers from both Jacksonville University and Florida State University were identified and matched with various funding sources. During this phase final schedules for all of the personnel and field site logistics and hardware details germane to the IOP were completed. Helium, pilot balloons and specialized hardware were needed for each pibal site for frequent launches at several distant locations.

Phase 3 Preliminary and Training Phase

Dates: 15 June 95-- 22 July 95

Final preparations of all equipment and facilities, including training and practice pilot balloon launches (pibal) for the participants were held by a combination of Florida State and NWS personnel with two theodolites. Navy active duty personnel trained their Naval Reserve participants in the use of the Mini-Rawinsonde (MRS). Naval personnel set up remote sensing platforms at three sites, delivered helium and other supplies, and two additional theodolite units were obtained on loan from Florida State University and the Weather Service Forecast Office in Atlanta, Ga.

There were still ongoing adjustments to the site locations, manning, and training of student participants until the week before the Intensive Operations Phase. The students supported by the COMET proposal were used for observational support and in the data reduction phase of the experiment. Those active in this phase of the project were trained in taking surface observations and occupied stations near the beachfront. These students were from Jacksonville University and were funded under the COMET Partners Project.

Phase 4 Intensive Operations Phase

Dates: 23 July -- 25 August

As planned, The IOP was envisioned to consist of two separate one-week periods designated IOP1 and IOP2, separated by a week. This was a part of the lessons learned by Florida State personnel from a previous tropical storm incident which were passed on to the JASBEX planners, and it proved very valuable. The week long separation was to provide time in which to produce a quicklook data analysis, but also allow any tropical system or disturbed weather to clear the area. Safety of the deployed teams was paramount, and there were site surveys to insure adequate physical security, as well as a hurricane recall plan. Students were used to augment only the least vulnerable observing sites to ensure their safety.

Normal synoptic and aviation surface observations were taken by trained observers at double the normal interval, i.e. half-hourly except when a special observation is taken at the site within 10 minutes of the half-hour interval report. These reports comprised the bulk of the data taken by existing sites and the deployed field teams, and provided the high quality kernel of the dataset.

These were augmented in two ways, with additional upper air and non-standard sites. The upper air observations were in the form of pilot balloon observations and mini-Rawinsondes from Navy mobile teams. In addition, the sensor reports from automatic data reporting sites such as those installed by the Navy or owned by the state forestry agencies, provided an adjunct to this kernel.

Supplemental radiosonde launches by the Jacksonville NWS office. were conducted during the IOP portion of the project. Funding for these soundings was requested from and granted by the NWS. Navy mini-Rawinsondes were released at two sites roughly equidistant North and South of the Jacksonville NWS upper air site.

During this phase the dataset was successfully gathered from all cooperative sites and deployed teams of observers. There was only one significant data loss due to a faulty cable connector. The proposed dates of the field team observations were adjusted to meet constraints imposed by the parent agencies available assets and manpower schedules. This adjustment was both necessary and fortuitous, since the adjustment of the first Intensive Operations Period forward one week allowed its completion prior to the arrival of Hurricane Erin in the first week of August. Separation of the IOP into two individual one week periods with time in between to make adjustments allowed Hurricane Erin to clear the area, and normal summer conditions to return for the second IOP week, though few adjustments were necessary. The second IOP week was also completed before another tropical system approached the area. In retrospect it was uncanny to actually complete the data gathering in favorable conditions during the most active tropical cyclone year in several decades.

Nonetheless, there were several teams of trained military observers participating, predominantly from the Navy (including Naval reserve personnel from NORA 1273), but also including the Florida Air National Guard. Other observational datasets were included from an FAA administered contract site, and Interior Department parks. Automated instrument sites included Navy sites including three installed specifically for this exercise, others from the U.S. Forest Service and St. Johns Water Management District. In addition, student augmentation funded by COMET provided approximately two hundred forty man-hours of student augmentation from Jacksonville University in data collection. This data collection effort went very well, and provided quality observations along the coast.

3.0 Data reduction and analysis

Commencing immediately after the first IOP, data reduction was started on the large volume of manually recorded observational data. A "quicklook" at the first IOP1 during the period between the IOP periods showed the dataset to be consistent and of high quality. Reduction of IOP2 data was to be accomplished after the completion of the intensive period, but due to an active series of tropical cyclones, actually got under way two weeks later than planned. Nearly one hundred forty of the three hundred and eighty total man-hours funded by COMET were expended to enter data into electronic spreadsheet and database formats. Nearly all of the data were fully archived electronically before the end of the funding period.

The dataset was archived in the format of a series of Quattro Pro spreadsheets and three database workbooks. This vehicle was chosen because of its popularity in the PC environment and its low cost of acquisition compared to its feature set. One benefit of this program was that there were also several data export options, and a second ASCII dataset was created in this manner at the completion of the data reduction effort. Copies of the archived dataset have been delivered to sea breeze modelers at Florida State University and at the Naval Postgraduate School.

Final analysis of the data and comparative model runs were to be the subject of a separate proposal, but the budget debacle precluded submission. Even without that funding there has been considerable interest in modeling this dataset under other grants.

4.0 Cooperative Efforts in support of this proposal.

Currently the National Weather Service Office at Jacksonville has strong cooperative working relations with DOD sites, both of the local Universities, and the community. For example, personnel from the 4 Navy sites in the area with Meteorology and Oceanography Units are frequent visitors, as are the Florida Air National Guard weather flight and weather training facility personnel. The Jacksonville NWS Office has a strong working relationship with the Florida State University Department of Meteorology (since many staff are graduates) and both Jacksonville University and the University of North Florida locally.

This spirit of cooperation has enabled the pooling of the previously listed assets and enthusiastic support of this project in a time of tight budgets and manpower constraints. The primary ingredient needed to fully enable this project was the requested seed money for hardware, supplies and student support required to cover the gaps in the observational network, and the student manpower necessary to accomplish electronic data entry.

It is noteworthy that the overhead figure for Jacksonville University is very low in comparison to other universities. These figures also provide a very large return on investment, since most of the non-student manpower required is in the form of trained personnel being donated to this effort with the cost being absorbed by the donor agencies.

This project brought together a large number of participants and clearly represents an austere budget for this type of project.


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