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Topographic–Thermal Circulations and GPS-Measured Moisture Variability around Mayaguez, Puerto Rico

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  • 1 * Physics Department, University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez, Puerto Rico
  • | 2 Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana
  • | 3 Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, and Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California
  • | 4 Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, and Department of Astronomy and Atmospheric Sciences, Kyungpook National University, Daegu, South Korea
  • | 5 ** Physics Department, University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, and University of Zululand, kwaDlangezwa, South Africa
  • | 6 University Consortium for Atmospheric Research, COSMIC Program Office, Boulder, Colorado
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Abstract

To investigate topographic–thermal circulations and the associated moisture variability over western Puerto Rico, field data were collected from 15 to 31 March 2011. Surface meteorological instruments and ground-based GPS receivers measured the circulation and precipitable water with high spatial and temporal resolution, and the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model was used to simulate the mesoscale flow at 1-km resolution. A westerly onshore flow of ~4 m s−1 over Mayaguez Bay was observed on many days, due to an interaction between thermally driven [3°C (10 km)−1] sea-breeze circulation and an island wake comprised of twin gyres. The thermally driven sea breeze occurred only when easterly synoptic winds favorably oriented the gyres with respect to the coast. Moisture associated with onshore flow was characterized by GPS measured precipitable water (PW). There is diurnal cycling of PW > 3 cm over the west coast during periods of onshore flow. The WRF Model tends to overestimate PW on the west side of the island, suggesting evapotranspiration as a process needing further attention. Fluctuations of PW affect local rainfall in times of convective instability.

Current affiliation: Department of Energy and Environmental Systems, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, Greensboro, North Carolina.

++ Corresponding author address: Mark R. Jury, Physics Department, University of Puerto Rico, Rt. 108, Mayaguez, PR 00681. E-mail address: mark.jury@upr.edu

Abstract

To investigate topographic–thermal circulations and the associated moisture variability over western Puerto Rico, field data were collected from 15 to 31 March 2011. Surface meteorological instruments and ground-based GPS receivers measured the circulation and precipitable water with high spatial and temporal resolution, and the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model was used to simulate the mesoscale flow at 1-km resolution. A westerly onshore flow of ~4 m s−1 over Mayaguez Bay was observed on many days, due to an interaction between thermally driven [3°C (10 km)−1] sea-breeze circulation and an island wake comprised of twin gyres. The thermally driven sea breeze occurred only when easterly synoptic winds favorably oriented the gyres with respect to the coast. Moisture associated with onshore flow was characterized by GPS measured precipitable water (PW). There is diurnal cycling of PW > 3 cm over the west coast during periods of onshore flow. The WRF Model tends to overestimate PW on the west side of the island, suggesting evapotranspiration as a process needing further attention. Fluctuations of PW affect local rainfall in times of convective instability.

Current affiliation: Department of Energy and Environmental Systems, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, Greensboro, North Carolina.

++ Corresponding author address: Mark R. Jury, Physics Department, University of Puerto Rico, Rt. 108, Mayaguez, PR 00681. E-mail address: mark.jury@upr.edu
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