Objectively Determined Fair-Weather NBL Features in ARW-WRF and Their Comparison to CASES-97 Observations

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

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Mukul Tewari National Center for Atmospheric Research,* Boulder, Colorado

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Fei Chen National Center for Atmospheric Research,* Boulder, Colorado

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Jimy Dudhia National Center for Atmospheric Research,* Boulder, Colorado

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Abstract

Heights of nocturnal boundary layer (NBL) features are determined using vertical profiles from the Advanced Research Weather Research and Forecasting Model (ARW-WRF), and then compared to data for three moderately windy fair-weather nights during the April–May 1997 Kansas-based Cooperative Atmosphere–Surface Exchange Study (CASES-97) to evaluate the success of four PBL schemes in replicating observations. The schemes are Bougeault–LaCarrere (BouLac), Mellor–Yamada–Janjić (MYJ), quasi-normal scale elimination (QNSE), and Yonsei University (YSU) versions 3.2 and 3.4.1. This study’s chosen objectively determined model NBL height h estimate uses a turbulence kinetic energy (TKE) threshold equal to 5% , where TKE′ is relative to its background (free atmosphere) value. The YSU- and MYJ-determined h could not be improved upon. Observed heights of the virtual temperature maximum hTvmax and wind speed maximum hSmax, and the heights h1wsonde and h2wsonde, between which the radiosonde slows from ~5 to ~3 m s−1 as it rises from turbulent to nonturbulent air, and thus brackets h, were used for comparison to model results. The observations revealed a general pattern: hTvmax increased through the night, and hTvmax and hSmax converged with time, and the two mostly lay between h1wsonde and h2wsonde after several hours. Clear failure to adhere to this pattern and large excursions from observations or other PBL schemes revealed excess mixing for BouLac and YSU version 3.2 (but not version 3.4.1) and excess thermal mixing for QNSE under windy conditions. Observed friction velocity was much smaller than model values, with differences consistent with the observations reflecting local skin drag and the model reflecting regional form drag + skin drag.

The National Center for Atmospheric Research is sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

Corresponding author address: Margaret A. LeMone, National Center for Atmospheric Research, 3090 Center Green Dr., Boulder, CO 80301. E-mail: lemone@ucar.edu

Abstract

Heights of nocturnal boundary layer (NBL) features are determined using vertical profiles from the Advanced Research Weather Research and Forecasting Model (ARW-WRF), and then compared to data for three moderately windy fair-weather nights during the April–May 1997 Kansas-based Cooperative Atmosphere–Surface Exchange Study (CASES-97) to evaluate the success of four PBL schemes in replicating observations. The schemes are Bougeault–LaCarrere (BouLac), Mellor–Yamada–Janjić (MYJ), quasi-normal scale elimination (QNSE), and Yonsei University (YSU) versions 3.2 and 3.4.1. This study’s chosen objectively determined model NBL height h estimate uses a turbulence kinetic energy (TKE) threshold equal to 5% , where TKE′ is relative to its background (free atmosphere) value. The YSU- and MYJ-determined h could not be improved upon. Observed heights of the virtual temperature maximum hTvmax and wind speed maximum hSmax, and the heights h1wsonde and h2wsonde, between which the radiosonde slows from ~5 to ~3 m s−1 as it rises from turbulent to nonturbulent air, and thus brackets h, were used for comparison to model results. The observations revealed a general pattern: hTvmax increased through the night, and hTvmax and hSmax converged with time, and the two mostly lay between h1wsonde and h2wsonde after several hours. Clear failure to adhere to this pattern and large excursions from observations or other PBL schemes revealed excess mixing for BouLac and YSU version 3.2 (but not version 3.4.1) and excess thermal mixing for QNSE under windy conditions. Observed friction velocity was much smaller than model values, with differences consistent with the observations reflecting local skin drag and the model reflecting regional form drag + skin drag.

The National Center for Atmospheric Research is sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

Corresponding author address: Margaret A. LeMone, National Center for Atmospheric Research, 3090 Center Green Dr., Boulder, CO 80301. E-mail: lemone@ucar.edu
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