A climatology of mid-tropospheric mesoscale strong wind events as observed by the MST radar, Aberystwyth



Continuous sounding of the troposphere by the NERC Mesosphere-Stratosphere-Troposphere (MST) wind profiling radar, mid-Wales, since late 1997 provides a unique dataset with which to study the mesoscale wind field of the mid-troposphere over the United Kingdom. A wind speed probability density function (PDF) generated from 7 years of data is used to design a feature-finding algorithm to identify mesoscale strong wind events in the radar dataset. The resulting 117 events form a climatology of mesoscale strong wind features at mid-tropospheric heights over the British Isles, defined as peak wind speeds at or above the top 1% of the PDF, wind speeds exceeding the top 5% for at least 1 h, and extending over at least 1 km in depth. Plotting the location of the peak winds of these features on schematic charts of the Norwegian and Shapiro–Keyser models of cyclogenesis show these to be mainly warm sector and cold frontal in nature, with smaller numbers of tropopause folds and sting jets. Wind roses indicate a prevailing westerly direction for mid-tropospheric winds generally, but the strong wind events are distinctly different: cold frontal and warm sector events prevail from the south to southwest, tropopause folds from the northwest and sting jets from the west. The wider applicability of the results to the British Isles is established through comparison with radiosonde data from five sites covering the British Isles. Copyright © 2010 Royal Meteorological Society