COPS /Convective and Orographically-induced Precipitation Study

  • Contact:

    Prof. Dr. Ch. Kottmeier

  • Project Group: IMK-TRO
  • Funding: DFG



Important COPS results are published in 2011 within a special issue of the „Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society”. The experimental findings initiating convective precipitation are compared and evaluated with precipitation forecasts by operational weather forecasting models. To be connected with the 21 papers of the special issue click here.


Motivation and Research Strategy
Quantitative Precipitation Forecast (QPF) still is of such poor quality that it can hardly be used for many applications, e.g. hydrology. Presently, deficiencies include (a) the incomplete modelings of the components of the water cycle, (b) gaps, non-resolved structures, and errors of the initial fields, (c) inadequate methods of optimally linking observations with forecast models. The goal of COPS is to advance the quality of forecasts of orographically induced precipitation by 4D observations and modeling of its life cycle. The goal of TRACKS is to get data sets for optimizing models of convective transport of trace substances.


The problems are approached with:
1. Synergy of unique in-situ and remote sensing instruments with unique measurement properties on different platforms.
2. Advanced high-resolution models optimized for operation in complex terrain.
3. Data assimilation and ensemble prediction systems.


Airborne platforms during COPS and TRACKS:
1. DLR Falcon
2. SAFIRE Falcon
3. FAAM BAe146
5. FZK Enduro
7. Univ. BS/FZK DO128
8. MetAir Dimona
9. FZJ Zeppelin NT
10. MPIC Learjet


Duration: June 1 - August 31
Geographical Area: Southwestern Germany, Eastern France

High-resolution observations are covering the whole life cycle of precipitation including the measurement of key processes such as convection initiation and cloud formation.

  • synoptic scale (upstream) formation of frontal zones in wind, humidity, and temperature fields
  • large-scale lifting in cases of a potentially unstable environment
  • convergence created by forced lifting and thermally-forced anabatic flow, the wind shear profile in the region of the ridges, convective boundary layer depth variations
  • moisture and temperature gradients governing convection inhibition (CIN) and convective available potential energy (CAPE) across the mountain ridges
  • aerosol load in the pre-convective environment influencing the diurnal cycle of variables in the planetary boundary layer.


Synergetic use of most advanced remote sensing systems

Advances in remote sensing technology such as scanning lidar and radar will be
used to investigate all convective processes prior to, during, and after convective
systems occur. Processes will be studied under orographic and synoptical scale
control in great detail. Data are also used for operational and research-type data
assimilation, mission planning, and go to a common data base (World Data Center
for Climate, Hamburg).

Pdf-Download COPS Broschüre



Official Website University of Bonn (Coordination):

COPS Project Office:

COPS Operations Center:

The Central region of COPS (WMV-Film, 55MB)


Contribution of lower and upper tropospheric forcing to the initiation and inhibition of convection over complex terrain
Dr. Ch. Barthlott, Dr. N. Kalthoff

Environmental parameters influencing convective development (EPICODE)
Dr. U. Blahak

Convective and Orographical Induced precipitation Study (COPS)
Prof. Dr. Ch. Kottmeier, Dr. U. Corsmeier

Short-Range Quantitative Precipitation Forecast (SRQPF)
Prof. Dr. Ch. Kottmeier

Mechanisms and prediction of precipitation over complex terrain
Prof. Dr. Ch. Kottmeier, Dr. M. Kunz