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Adjustment of the Summer Marine Boundary Layer around Point Sur, California

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  • 1 Coastal Studies, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, San Diego, California
  • | 2 Physical Oceanography Research Division, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, San Diego, California
  • | 3 Meteorology Department, Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California
  • | 4 Marine Meteorology Division, Naval Research Laboratory, Monterey, California
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Abstract

An instrumented C-130 aircraft flew over water around Point Sur, California, on 17 June 1996 under strong northwest wind conditions and a strong marine inversion. Patterns were flown from 30- to 1200-m elevation and up to 120 km offshore. Nearshore, marine air accelerated past Point Sur, reaching a surface maximum of 17 m s−1 in the lee. Winds measured over water in and above the marine layer were alongshore with no significant cross-shore flow. Sea level pressure, 10-m air temperature, and air temperature inversion base generally decreased toward the coast and were an absolute minimum just downcoast of the wind speed maximum. The sea surface temperature also decreased toward the coast, but was an absolute minimum directly off Point Sur. The near-coast, air temperature inversion base height was 400 m north of Point Sur, decreased to a minimum of 50 m in the lee of Point Sur, then increased farther to the south. Wind speeds were at a maximum centered along the air temperature inversion base; the fastest was 27 m s−1 in the lee of Point Sur.

Using a Froude number calculation that includes the lower half of the capping layer, the marine layer in the area is determined to have been supercritical. Most of the marine layer had Froude numbers between 1.0 and 2.0 with the extreme range of 0.8–2.8. Temperatures in the air temperature inversion in the lee were substantially greater than elsewhere, modifying the surface pressure gradient. The overall structure was a hydraulic supercritical expansion fan in the lee of Point Sur under the influence of rotation and surface friction.

The Naval Research Laboratory nonhydrostatic Coupled Ocean/Atmosphere Mesoscale Prediction System (COAMPS) indicated a broad, supercritical marine boundary layer moving to the south along central California and Point Sur during the aircraft flight. The marine boundary layer thinned and accelerated into the lee of Point Sur, which was the site of the fastest sea level wind speed along central California. Isotherms dip and speeds decreased in the lee of Point Sur in the capping inversion well above the marine layer. COAMPS forecasted a compression shock wave initiating off the upwind side of the topography behind Point Sur and other coastal points to the north. Evidence from the model and the aircraft supports the existence of an oblique hydraulic jump on the north side of Point Sur.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Clive E. Dorman, Coastal Studies, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093-0209.

Email: clive@coast.ucsd.edu

Abstract

An instrumented C-130 aircraft flew over water around Point Sur, California, on 17 June 1996 under strong northwest wind conditions and a strong marine inversion. Patterns were flown from 30- to 1200-m elevation and up to 120 km offshore. Nearshore, marine air accelerated past Point Sur, reaching a surface maximum of 17 m s−1 in the lee. Winds measured over water in and above the marine layer were alongshore with no significant cross-shore flow. Sea level pressure, 10-m air temperature, and air temperature inversion base generally decreased toward the coast and were an absolute minimum just downcoast of the wind speed maximum. The sea surface temperature also decreased toward the coast, but was an absolute minimum directly off Point Sur. The near-coast, air temperature inversion base height was 400 m north of Point Sur, decreased to a minimum of 50 m in the lee of Point Sur, then increased farther to the south. Wind speeds were at a maximum centered along the air temperature inversion base; the fastest was 27 m s−1 in the lee of Point Sur.

Using a Froude number calculation that includes the lower half of the capping layer, the marine layer in the area is determined to have been supercritical. Most of the marine layer had Froude numbers between 1.0 and 2.0 with the extreme range of 0.8–2.8. Temperatures in the air temperature inversion in the lee were substantially greater than elsewhere, modifying the surface pressure gradient. The overall structure was a hydraulic supercritical expansion fan in the lee of Point Sur under the influence of rotation and surface friction.

The Naval Research Laboratory nonhydrostatic Coupled Ocean/Atmosphere Mesoscale Prediction System (COAMPS) indicated a broad, supercritical marine boundary layer moving to the south along central California and Point Sur during the aircraft flight. The marine boundary layer thinned and accelerated into the lee of Point Sur, which was the site of the fastest sea level wind speed along central California. Isotherms dip and speeds decreased in the lee of Point Sur in the capping inversion well above the marine layer. COAMPS forecasted a compression shock wave initiating off the upwind side of the topography behind Point Sur and other coastal points to the north. Evidence from the model and the aircraft supports the existence of an oblique hydraulic jump on the north side of Point Sur.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Clive E. Dorman, Coastal Studies, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093-0209.

Email: clive@coast.ucsd.edu

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