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A Dynamic Trio: Inertial Oscillation, Deformation Frontogenesis, and the Ekman–Taylor Boundary Layer

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  • 1 Department of Physics and Astronomy, Benedictine College, Atchison, Kansas
  • | 2 Program in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado
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Abstract

Potential temperature and wind profiles obtained during a case of nighttime low-level deformation frontogenesis are examined. The winds in the lowest kilometer over a region in the central United States are shown to be controlled by thermal wind shear in a stable layer above 400 m, in accordance with the Hoskins–Bretherton semigeostrophic frontogenesis model, and by surface-drag-generated shear in the nearly neutral layer below. In this lower layer, the wind profiles are shown to be in good agreement with a simple baroclinic Ekman–Taylor model. The opposite shear in the two layers produces a low-level jet that appears in soundings taken hundreds of kilometers apart. The agreement of the observed profiles with these models is revealed only after a height-dependent inertial oscillation in both layers is removed from the rapidly evolving hourly wind data.

Corresponding author address: William Blumen, PAOS, CB 311, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309.

Email: blumen@paradox.colorado.edu

Abstract

Potential temperature and wind profiles obtained during a case of nighttime low-level deformation frontogenesis are examined. The winds in the lowest kilometer over a region in the central United States are shown to be controlled by thermal wind shear in a stable layer above 400 m, in accordance with the Hoskins–Bretherton semigeostrophic frontogenesis model, and by surface-drag-generated shear in the nearly neutral layer below. In this lower layer, the wind profiles are shown to be in good agreement with a simple baroclinic Ekman–Taylor model. The opposite shear in the two layers produces a low-level jet that appears in soundings taken hundreds of kilometers apart. The agreement of the observed profiles with these models is revealed only after a height-dependent inertial oscillation in both layers is removed from the rapidly evolving hourly wind data.

Corresponding author address: William Blumen, PAOS, CB 311, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309.

Email: blumen@paradox.colorado.edu

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