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A Study of Nocturnal Surface Wind Speed Overprediction by the WRF-ARW Model in Southeastern Texas

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  • 1 National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration/Air Resources Laboratory, and Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites, University of Maryland, College Park, College Park, Maryland
  • | 2 National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration/Air Resources Laboratory, College Park, Maryland
  • | 3 Air Quality Division, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Austin, Texas
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Abstract

The overprediction of surface wind speed during nighttime by the Advanced Research core of the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF-ARW) model was investigated for a period of the Second Texas Air Quality Study (28 May–3 July 2006). In coastal regions of southeastern Texas, the model had a significant increase of wind speed biases on the surface in the evening throughout the period, especially between 4 and 12 June. The synoptic pattern was a high pressure system centered over the Louisiana–Mississippi area that was subjected to a weak easterly–southeasterly flow in the lower troposphere. The weather conditions favorable for sea-breeze development brought a southerly–southwesterly onshore flow to the near-surface levels. In comparison with measurements, the downward sensible heat flux was overpredicted at night, which resulted in a warm bias in surface temperature. For the vertical wind profile on days with an evening wind bias, sea-breeze-driven nocturnal low-level jets (southerly–southwesterly) were present at around 300 m while another wind maximum was observed at higher levels (around 1.5–2 km), which were associated with a high pressure system centered on southeastern states. The vertical gradient of wind speed in the lowest 150 m was smoother in the model than it was in the observations; this could be attributed to excessive downward mixing. Sensitivities using different land surface and PBL parameterizations showed that the model's overprediction of nocturnal wind was still present despite improvements in the predictions of surface temperature and sensible heat flux.

Corresponding author address: Fong Ngan, 5830 University Research Ct., College Park, MD 20740. E-mail: fantine.ngan@noaa.gov

Abstract

The overprediction of surface wind speed during nighttime by the Advanced Research core of the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF-ARW) model was investigated for a period of the Second Texas Air Quality Study (28 May–3 July 2006). In coastal regions of southeastern Texas, the model had a significant increase of wind speed biases on the surface in the evening throughout the period, especially between 4 and 12 June. The synoptic pattern was a high pressure system centered over the Louisiana–Mississippi area that was subjected to a weak easterly–southeasterly flow in the lower troposphere. The weather conditions favorable for sea-breeze development brought a southerly–southwesterly onshore flow to the near-surface levels. In comparison with measurements, the downward sensible heat flux was overpredicted at night, which resulted in a warm bias in surface temperature. For the vertical wind profile on days with an evening wind bias, sea-breeze-driven nocturnal low-level jets (southerly–southwesterly) were present at around 300 m while another wind maximum was observed at higher levels (around 1.5–2 km), which were associated with a high pressure system centered on southeastern states. The vertical gradient of wind speed in the lowest 150 m was smoother in the model than it was in the observations; this could be attributed to excessive downward mixing. Sensitivities using different land surface and PBL parameterizations showed that the model's overprediction of nocturnal wind was still present despite improvements in the predictions of surface temperature and sensible heat flux.

Corresponding author address: Fong Ngan, 5830 University Research Ct., College Park, MD 20740. E-mail: fantine.ngan@noaa.gov
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