Observations of the ABL Structures over a Heterogeneous Land Surface during IHOP_2002

Song-Lak Kang Department of Meteorology, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania

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Kenneth J. Davis Department of Meteorology, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania

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Margaret LeMone Mesoscale and Microscale Meteorology Division, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado

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Abstract

This study analyzes data collected by aircraft and surface flux sites over a 60-km north–south-oriented aircraft track for five fair-weather days during the International H2O Project (IHOP_2002) to investigate the atmospheric boundary layer (ABL) structures over a heterogeneous land surface under different background weather conditions. The surface skin temperature distribution over the aircraft track in this case is mostly explained by the soil thermal properties and soil moisture, and corresponds to the observed ABL depths except one day having a weak surface temperature gradient and a weak capping inversion. For the other four days, the blending height of the surface heterogeneity likely exceeds the ABL depth and thus the ABL establishes equilibrium with local surface conditions.

Among the four days, two days having relatively small Obukhov lengths are evaluated to show the background weather conditions under which small-scale surface heterogeneity can influence the entire ABL. In fact, on one of these two days, relatively small-scale features of the surface temperature distribution can be seen in the ABL depth distribution. On the two small Obukhov length days multiresolution spectra and joint probability distributions, which are applied to the data collected from repeated low-level aircraft passes, both imply the existence of surface-heterogeneity-generated mesoscale circulations on scales of 10 km or more. Also on these two small Obukhov length days, the vertical profiles of dimensionless variances of velocity, temperature, and moisture show large deviations from the similarity curves, which also imply the existence of mesoscale circulations.

Corresponding author address: Song-Lak Kang, Department of Meteorology, The Pennsylvania State University, 503 Walker Building, University Park, PA 16802. Email: szk111@psu.edu

Abstract

This study analyzes data collected by aircraft and surface flux sites over a 60-km north–south-oriented aircraft track for five fair-weather days during the International H2O Project (IHOP_2002) to investigate the atmospheric boundary layer (ABL) structures over a heterogeneous land surface under different background weather conditions. The surface skin temperature distribution over the aircraft track in this case is mostly explained by the soil thermal properties and soil moisture, and corresponds to the observed ABL depths except one day having a weak surface temperature gradient and a weak capping inversion. For the other four days, the blending height of the surface heterogeneity likely exceeds the ABL depth and thus the ABL establishes equilibrium with local surface conditions.

Among the four days, two days having relatively small Obukhov lengths are evaluated to show the background weather conditions under which small-scale surface heterogeneity can influence the entire ABL. In fact, on one of these two days, relatively small-scale features of the surface temperature distribution can be seen in the ABL depth distribution. On the two small Obukhov length days multiresolution spectra and joint probability distributions, which are applied to the data collected from repeated low-level aircraft passes, both imply the existence of surface-heterogeneity-generated mesoscale circulations on scales of 10 km or more. Also on these two small Obukhov length days, the vertical profiles of dimensionless variances of velocity, temperature, and moisture show large deviations from the similarity curves, which also imply the existence of mesoscale circulations.

Corresponding author address: Song-Lak Kang, Department of Meteorology, The Pennsylvania State University, 503 Walker Building, University Park, PA 16802. Email: szk111@psu.edu

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