Comparison of Observed 10-m Wind Speeds to Those Based on Monin–Obukhov Similarity Theory Using IHOP_2002 Aircraft and Surface Data

Diane Strassberg National Center for Atmospheric Research, and Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado

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Margaret A. LeMone National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado

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Thomas T. Warner National Center for Atmospheric Research, and Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado

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Joseph G. Alfieri Department of Agronomy, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana

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Abstract

Comparisons of 10-m above ground level (AGL) wind speeds from numerical weather prediction (NWP) models to point observations consistently show that model daytime wind speeds are slow compared to observations, even after improving model physics and going to smaller grid spacing. Previous authors have attributed the discrepancy to differences between the areas represented by model and observations, and the small surface roughness upstream of wind vanes compared with the corresponding model grid value. Using daytime fair-weather data from the May–June 2002 International H2O Experiment (IHOP_2002), the effect of wind-vane exposure is explored by comparing observed 10-m winds from nine surface-flux towers in well-exposed locations to modeled 10-m winds found by applying Monin–Obukhov (MO) similarity for unstable conditions to flight-track-averaged data collected by the University of Wyoming King Air over flat to rolling terrain with occasional trees and buildings. In the calculations, King Air winds and fluxes are supplemented with thermodynamic means and fluxes from the surface-flux towers. After exercising considerable care in characterizing and reducing biases in aircraft winds and fluxes, the authors found that MO-based surface winds averaged 0.5–0.7 ± 0.2 m s−1 less than those measured—about the same as the smaller reported discrepancies between NWP models and observed winds.

Corresponding author address: Margaret A. LeMone, NCAR Foothills Laboratory, 3450 Mitchell Lane, Boulder, CO 80301. Email: lemone@ucar.edu

This article included in the International H2O Project (IHOP_2002) special collection.

Abstract

Comparisons of 10-m above ground level (AGL) wind speeds from numerical weather prediction (NWP) models to point observations consistently show that model daytime wind speeds are slow compared to observations, even after improving model physics and going to smaller grid spacing. Previous authors have attributed the discrepancy to differences between the areas represented by model and observations, and the small surface roughness upstream of wind vanes compared with the corresponding model grid value. Using daytime fair-weather data from the May–June 2002 International H2O Experiment (IHOP_2002), the effect of wind-vane exposure is explored by comparing observed 10-m winds from nine surface-flux towers in well-exposed locations to modeled 10-m winds found by applying Monin–Obukhov (MO) similarity for unstable conditions to flight-track-averaged data collected by the University of Wyoming King Air over flat to rolling terrain with occasional trees and buildings. In the calculations, King Air winds and fluxes are supplemented with thermodynamic means and fluxes from the surface-flux towers. After exercising considerable care in characterizing and reducing biases in aircraft winds and fluxes, the authors found that MO-based surface winds averaged 0.5–0.7 ± 0.2 m s−1 less than those measured—about the same as the smaller reported discrepancies between NWP models and observed winds.

Corresponding author address: Margaret A. LeMone, NCAR Foothills Laboratory, 3450 Mitchell Lane, Boulder, CO 80301. Email: lemone@ucar.edu

This article included in the International H2O Project (IHOP_2002) special collection.

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