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Diurnal Evolution of Three-Dimensional Wind and Temperature Structure in California's Central Valley

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  • a Department of Geosciences, University of Houston, Houston, Texas
  • | b Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, Washington
  • | c U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service North Central Research Station, East Lansing, Michigan
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Abstract

The diurnal evolution of the three-dimensional summer-season mean wind and temperature structure in California's Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys (collectively called the Central Valley) is investigated using data from 22 radar wind profiler/radio acoustic sounding systems (RASS) operated as part of the Central California Ozone Study in 2000. The profiler network revealed, for the first time, that the persistent summer-season flow pattern documented by surface observations extends 800–1000 m above the surface. At most locations, up-valley winds persist during both day and night except at the upper ends of the valleys and close to the valley sidewalls where diurnal wind reversals occur. Wind speeds exhibit pronounced diurnal oscillations, with amplitudes decreasing with height. A low-level wind maximum occurs in the lowest 300 m, with a sharp decrease in speed above the maximum. Especially well defined nocturnal low-level jets occur at sites in the southern San Joaquin Valley, where maximum speeds of 10 m s−1 or more occur 1–2 h before midnight at heights near 300 m. The afternoon mixed layer, generally deeper than 1000 m, increases in depth with up-valley distance in both valleys. At night, temperature inversions develop in the lowest several hundred meters with near-isothermal layers above. Mean temperatures in the lowest 500 m of the valleys are always warmer than at the same altitude over the coast, and temperature increases from the lower to upper valleys. The diurnal oscillations of the coast– valley and along-valley temperature and pressure difference reach a maximum in late afternoon and a minimum in early morning. These oscillations are in phase with the diurnal variation of westerly onshore flows. The along-valley wind maxima, however, occur 1–2 h before midnight, whereas the along-valley pressure gradient maxima are usually found just before sunset.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Sharon Zhong, Department of Geosciences, University of Houston, 312 S & R 1, 4800 Calhoun Rd., Houston, TX 77204-5007. szhong@uh.edu

Abstract

The diurnal evolution of the three-dimensional summer-season mean wind and temperature structure in California's Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys (collectively called the Central Valley) is investigated using data from 22 radar wind profiler/radio acoustic sounding systems (RASS) operated as part of the Central California Ozone Study in 2000. The profiler network revealed, for the first time, that the persistent summer-season flow pattern documented by surface observations extends 800–1000 m above the surface. At most locations, up-valley winds persist during both day and night except at the upper ends of the valleys and close to the valley sidewalls where diurnal wind reversals occur. Wind speeds exhibit pronounced diurnal oscillations, with amplitudes decreasing with height. A low-level wind maximum occurs in the lowest 300 m, with a sharp decrease in speed above the maximum. Especially well defined nocturnal low-level jets occur at sites in the southern San Joaquin Valley, where maximum speeds of 10 m s−1 or more occur 1–2 h before midnight at heights near 300 m. The afternoon mixed layer, generally deeper than 1000 m, increases in depth with up-valley distance in both valleys. At night, temperature inversions develop in the lowest several hundred meters with near-isothermal layers above. Mean temperatures in the lowest 500 m of the valleys are always warmer than at the same altitude over the coast, and temperature increases from the lower to upper valleys. The diurnal oscillations of the coast– valley and along-valley temperature and pressure difference reach a maximum in late afternoon and a minimum in early morning. These oscillations are in phase with the diurnal variation of westerly onshore flows. The along-valley wind maxima, however, occur 1–2 h before midnight, whereas the along-valley pressure gradient maxima are usually found just before sunset.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Sharon Zhong, Department of Geosciences, University of Houston, 312 S & R 1, 4800 Calhoun Rd., Houston, TX 77204-5007. szhong@uh.edu

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