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Evening Temperature Rises on Valley Floors and Slopes: Their Causes and Their Relationship to the Thermally Driven Wind System

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  • 1 Department of Meteorology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • | 2 National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado
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Abstract

At slope and valley floor sites in the Owens Valley of California, the late afternoon near-surface air temperature decline is often followed by a temporary temperature rise before the expected nighttime cooling resumes. The spatial and temporal patterns of this evening warming phenomenon, as seen in the March/April 2006 Terrain-Induced Rotor Experiment, are investigated using a widely distributed network of 51 surface-based temperature dataloggers. Hypotheses on the causes of the temperature rises are tested using heavily instrumented 34-m meteorological towers that were located within the datalogger array. The evening temperature rise follows the development of a shallow temperature deficit layer over the slopes and floor of the valley in which winds blow downslope. Background winds within the valley, freed from frictional deceleration from the earth’s surface by this layer, accelerate. The increased vertical wind shear across the temperature deficit layer eventually creates shear instability and mixes out the layer, creating the observed warming near the ground. As momentum is exchanged during the mixing event, the wind direction near the surface gradually turns from downslope to the background wind direction. After the short period of warming associated with the mixing, ongoing net radiative loss causes a resumption of the cooling.

* Certified Consulting Meteorologist (CCM)

+ Current affiliation: Clipper Windpower Development, Inc., Denver, Colorado

# The National Center for Atmospheric Research is sponsored by the National Science Foundation

Corresponding author address: C. David Whiteman, CCM, Department of Meteorology, University of Utah, 135 S 1460 E, Rm. 819, Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0110. Email: dave.whiteman@utah.edu

This article included in the Terrain-Induced Rotor Experiment (T-Rex) special collection.

Abstract

At slope and valley floor sites in the Owens Valley of California, the late afternoon near-surface air temperature decline is often followed by a temporary temperature rise before the expected nighttime cooling resumes. The spatial and temporal patterns of this evening warming phenomenon, as seen in the March/April 2006 Terrain-Induced Rotor Experiment, are investigated using a widely distributed network of 51 surface-based temperature dataloggers. Hypotheses on the causes of the temperature rises are tested using heavily instrumented 34-m meteorological towers that were located within the datalogger array. The evening temperature rise follows the development of a shallow temperature deficit layer over the slopes and floor of the valley in which winds blow downslope. Background winds within the valley, freed from frictional deceleration from the earth’s surface by this layer, accelerate. The increased vertical wind shear across the temperature deficit layer eventually creates shear instability and mixes out the layer, creating the observed warming near the ground. As momentum is exchanged during the mixing event, the wind direction near the surface gradually turns from downslope to the background wind direction. After the short period of warming associated with the mixing, ongoing net radiative loss causes a resumption of the cooling.

* Certified Consulting Meteorologist (CCM)

+ Current affiliation: Clipper Windpower Development, Inc., Denver, Colorado

# The National Center for Atmospheric Research is sponsored by the National Science Foundation

Corresponding author address: C. David Whiteman, CCM, Department of Meteorology, University of Utah, 135 S 1460 E, Rm. 819, Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0110. Email: dave.whiteman@utah.edu

This article included in the Terrain-Induced Rotor Experiment (T-Rex) special collection.

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