Sea breezes provide welcome relief from the midday heat for the 85% of Australia’s population which reside within 50km of the coastline. These coastal environments are also impacted by severe thunderstorms, where strong surface heating and maritime moisture provide the necessary ingredients for afternoon thunderstorms. Understanding of diurnal winds and local severe storms is reasonably well established within the atmospheric sciences community, but a significant knowledge gaps exists in our ability to quantify the potential for a sea breeze to enhance or suppress deep convection. To achieve this aim, an ambitious field program is required to collected high spatial and temporal resolution observations of the atmosphere both within and surrounding thunderstorms.

Southeast Queensland (SEQ) is especially prone severe thunderstorms, with extreme hail, damaging winds and tornadoes affecting the heavily urbanised region. The coastal plains SEQ provide an ideal location to observe and examine interactions between the convective storms and sea breezes. A variety of mobile and fixed instrumentation will be employed throughout the field experiment to capture the necessary observations, include radar, lidar, aerological soundings, profilers and unmanned airborne observation platforms.

An understanding of the interaction processes resulting in the intensification or suppression of convection is essential to improving thunderstorm nowcasting skill for the densely populated coastal regions of Eastern Australia and other sub-tropical coastal regions across the globe.

Funding: APA, UQ Advantage, ROAMES Group, Ergon Energy, Bureau of Meteorology, GSITA (Graduate School International Travel Award) 2014

Advisors: Prof Hamish McGowan (UQ), Dr Harald Richter (BoM), Assoc Prof Kevin Walsh (UniMelb)


Project members

Joshua Soderholm

Joshua Soderholm

PhD Graduate