Observational Analysis of a Gust Front to Bore to Solitary Wave Transition within an Evolving Nocturnal Boundary Layer

Kevin Knupp Department of Atmospheric Science, University of Alabama in Huntsville, Huntsville, Alabama

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Abstract

The evolution of a gust front to bore to solitary wave transition, and comprehensive information on the evolving nocturnal boundary layer (NBL) associated with this change, are described with analysis of radar and profiler measurements. The observations were obtained on 21 June 2002 in the Oklahoma panhandle during the International H2O Project. The evolution of this system, from a strong bore (initiated by a vigorous gust front) to a solitary wave, was observed over a 4-h period with Doppler radar and surface measurements. Detailed information on the mature bore structure was obtained by a cluster of profiling instruments including two boundary layer wind profilers, a lidar ceilometer, and a microwave profiling radiometer.

A strong bore was initiated by an extensive gust front that perturbed an incipient NBL whose development (prior to sunset) was enhanced by shading from the parent mesoscale convective system. At the time of bore formation, the NBL was about 300 m deep and exhibited a surface temperature about 4 K less than the afternoon maximum. Initially, the bore assumed kinematic properties similar to those of a gust front. As the NBL stabilized, the bore matured and exhibited undular formations over 30–60-km segments along the bore axis. A 30-km-wide cloud field accompanied the mature bore system within three hours of its formation. System-relative airflow within the cloud field was front-to-rear and exhibited a primary hydraulic jump updraft (4–5 m s−1 magnitude) within the bore core. The bore core exhibited a low, smooth cloud base, a cloud depth of 2.5 km, nearly adiabatic liquid water content, and pronounced turbulence. The maximum parcel displacements within the bore were about 2 km (sufficient for marginal convective initiation), and the net parcel displacement from before to after bore passage was 0.6–0.9 km.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Kevin R. Knupp, Dept. of Atmospheric Science, University of Alabama in Huntsville, NSSTC, 320 Sparkman Drive, Huntsville, AL 35805. Email: kevin.knupp@nsstc.uah.edu

Abstract

The evolution of a gust front to bore to solitary wave transition, and comprehensive information on the evolving nocturnal boundary layer (NBL) associated with this change, are described with analysis of radar and profiler measurements. The observations were obtained on 21 June 2002 in the Oklahoma panhandle during the International H2O Project. The evolution of this system, from a strong bore (initiated by a vigorous gust front) to a solitary wave, was observed over a 4-h period with Doppler radar and surface measurements. Detailed information on the mature bore structure was obtained by a cluster of profiling instruments including two boundary layer wind profilers, a lidar ceilometer, and a microwave profiling radiometer.

A strong bore was initiated by an extensive gust front that perturbed an incipient NBL whose development (prior to sunset) was enhanced by shading from the parent mesoscale convective system. At the time of bore formation, the NBL was about 300 m deep and exhibited a surface temperature about 4 K less than the afternoon maximum. Initially, the bore assumed kinematic properties similar to those of a gust front. As the NBL stabilized, the bore matured and exhibited undular formations over 30–60-km segments along the bore axis. A 30-km-wide cloud field accompanied the mature bore system within three hours of its formation. System-relative airflow within the cloud field was front-to-rear and exhibited a primary hydraulic jump updraft (4–5 m s−1 magnitude) within the bore core. The bore core exhibited a low, smooth cloud base, a cloud depth of 2.5 km, nearly adiabatic liquid water content, and pronounced turbulence. The maximum parcel displacements within the bore were about 2 km (sufficient for marginal convective initiation), and the net parcel displacement from before to after bore passage was 0.6–0.9 km.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Kevin R. Knupp, Dept. of Atmospheric Science, University of Alabama in Huntsville, NSSTC, 320 Sparkman Drive, Huntsville, AL 35805. Email: kevin.knupp@nsstc.uah.edu

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