Browse

You are looking at 1 - 10 of 16 items for :

  • International H2O Project (IHOP) Boundary Layer Processes x
  • Refine by Access: All Content x
Clear All
John H. Marsham, Stanley B. Trier, Tammy M. Weckwerth, and James W. Wilson

Abstract

The evolution of a mesoscale convective system (MCS) observed during the International H2O Project that took place on the Great Plains of the United States is described. The MCS formed at night in a frontal zone, with four initiation episodes occurring between approximately 0000 and 0400 local time. Radar, radiosonde, and surface data together show that at least three of the initiation episodes were elevated, occurring from moist conditionally unstable layers located above the boundary layer, which had been stabilized by previous MCSs. Initiation occurred in northwest–southeast-oriented lines where a southerly nocturnal low-level jet terminated, generating elevated convergence. One initiation episode was observed using the S-band dual-polarization Doppler radar (S-Pol) and occurred at the intersection of this convergence zone with a propagating wave. Calculations of the Scorer parameter were consistent with wave trapping. Downdrafts from the developing convection generated both waves and bores, which propagated ahead of the cold pool, initiating further convection. Between 0700 and 1000 local time, the structure and orientation of the MCS evolved to a southwest–northeast-oriented squall line, which built a cold-pool outflow that could lift near-surface air to its level of free convection. The weaker cold pool in the eastern part of the domain was consistent with the greater impacts of a previous MCS there. To the authors’ knowledge, this case study provides the first detailed observational investigation of elevated initiation leading to surface-based convection, a process that appears to be an important mechanism for the generation of long-lived MCSs from elevated initiation.

Full access
Roger M. Wakimoto and Hanne V. Murphey

Abstract

An analysis of six convergence boundaries observed during the International H2O Project (IHOP_2002) is presented. The detailed kinematic and thermodynamic structure of these boundaries was examined using data collected by an airborne Doppler radar and a series of dropsondes released by a jet flying at ∼500 mb. The former and latter platforms were able to resolve the meso-γ- and meso-β-scale circulations, respectively. Convection initiated on three of the days while no storms developed in the regions targeted by the mobile platforms on the other days (referred to as null cases). The airborne radar resolved the finescale structure of four drylines, a cold front, and an outflow boundary on the six days. Horizontal profiles through radar-detected thin lines revealed “bell-shaped distributions” and there appeared to be a seasonal dependence of the peak values of radar reflectivity. The echo profiles through the fine line in May were, in general, greater than those plotted for the June cases. There was no apparent relationship between the intensity of the low-level updraft and convection initiation. The strongest updraft resolved in the dual-Doppler wind synthesis was associated with a null case. There was also no relationship between the strength of the moisture discontinuity across the boundaries and convection initiation.

The three days during which the storms developed were all associated with two convergence boundaries that were adjacent to each other. The two boundaries collided on one of the days; however, the boundaries on the other two days were approximately parallel and remained separated by a distance of 5–15 km. The total derivative of the horizontal vorticity rotating along an axis parallel to the boundary was calculated using dropsonde data. The horizontal gradient of buoyancy was the largest contributor to the change in vorticity and revealed maximum and minimum values that would support the generation of counterrotating circulations, thus promoting vertically rising air parcels. These updrafts would be more conducive to convection initiation. The null cases were characterized by a low-level vorticity generation of only one sign. This pattern would support tilted updrafts. The results presented in this study suggest that it is not necessary for two boundaries to collide in order for thunderstorms to develop. Solenoidally generated horizontal circulations can produce conditions favorable for convection initiation even if the boundaries remain separate.

Full access
Lindsay J. Bennett, Tammy M. Weckwerth, Alan M. Blyth, Bart Geerts, Qun Miao, and Yvette P. Richardson

Abstract

The Boundary Layer Evolution (BLE) missions of the International H2O Project (IHOP_2002) were designed to provide comprehensive observations of the distribution of water vapor in the quiescent boundary layer and its evolution during the early morning. The case study discussed in this paper presents detailed observations of the development of the boundary layer from before sunrise through to the period of growth of the mature convective boundary layer (CBL) during the 14 June 2002 BLE mission. The large number of remote sensing platforms, including the multiple instruments collocated at the Homestead Profiling Site, provided a detailed set of measurements of the growth and structure of the CBL.

The observations describe the classic evolution of a daytime CBL, beginning with a shallow nocturnal boundary layer (NBL) below the remnants of the previous day’s mixed layer, or residual layer. The vertical distribution of humidity in these layers during the early morning was affected by advection of dry air and by gravity waves. About an hour after sunrise a CBL developed, and gradually deepened with time as it mixed out the NBL and residual layer. The growth of the top of the CBL was particularly well observed because of the strong vertical gradients in temperature, humidity, and aerosol concentration. As the CBL deepened and the average CBL wind speed decreased, the mode of convective organization evolved from horizontal convective rolls to open-celled convection. A unique set of detailed measurements of the structure of the open cells was obtained from multiple instruments including the Doppler-on-Wheels radar, the Mobile Integrated Profiling System wind profiler, and the Scanning Raman lidar. They showed the relationship between open cells, thermals, mantle echoes, and the CBL top.

Full access
Margaret A. LeMone, Fei Chen, Mukul Tewari, Jimy Dudhia, Bart Geerts, Qun Miao, Richard L. Coulter, and Robert L. Grossman

Abstract

Fair-weather data from the May–June 2002 International H2O Project (IHOP_2002) 46-km eastern flight track in southeast Kansas are compared to simulations using the advanced research version of the Weather Research and Forecasting model coupled to the Noah land surface model (LSM), to gain insight into how the surface influences convective boundary layer (CBL) fluxes and structure, and to evaluate the success of the modeling system in representing CBL structure and evolution. This offers a unique look at the capability of the model on scales the length of the flight track (46 km) and smaller under relatively uncomplicated meteorological conditions.

It is found that the modeled sensible heat flux H is significantly larger than observed, while the latent heat flux (LE) is much closer to observations. The slope of the best-fit line ΔLE/ΔH to a plot of LE as a function of H, an indicator of horizontal variation in available energy H + LE, for the data along the flight track, was shallower than observed. In a previous study of the IHOP_2002 western track, similar results were explained by too small a value of the parameter C in the Zilitinkevich equation used in the Noah LSM to compute the roughness length for heat and moisture flux from the roughness length for momentum, which is supplied in an input table; evidence is presented that this is true for the eastern track as well. The horizontal variability in modeled fluxes follows the soil moisture pattern rather than vegetation type, as is observed; because the input land use map does not capture the observed variation in vegetation. The observed westward rise in CBL depth is successfully modeled for 3 of the 4 days, but the actual depths are too high, largely because modeled H is too high. The model reproduces the timing of observed cumulus cloudiness for 3 of the 4 days.

Modeled clouds lead to departures from the typical clear-sky straight line relating surface H to LE for a given model time, making them easy to detect. With spatial filtering, a straight slope line can be recovered. Similarly, larger filter lengths are needed to produce a stable slope for observed fluxes when there are clouds than for clear skies.

Full access
Margaret A. LeMone, Fei Chen, Mukul Tewari, Jimy Dudhia, Bart Geerts, Qun Miao, Richard L. Coulter, and Robert L. Grossman

Abstract

Fair-weather data along the May–June 2002 International H2O Project (IHOP_2002) eastern track and the nearby Argonne Boundary Layer Experiments (ABLE) facility in southeast Kansas are compared to numerical simulations to gain insight into how the surface influences convective boundary layer (CBL) structure, and to evaluate the success of the modeling system in replicating the observed behavior. Simulations are conducted for 4 days, using the Advanced Research version of the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model coupled to the Noah land surface model (LSM), initialized using the High-Resolution Land Data Assimilation System (HRLDAS). Because the observations focus on phenomena less than 60 km in scale, the model is run with 1-km grid spacing, offering a critical look at high-resolution model behavior in an environment uncomplicated by precipitation.

The model replicates the type of CBL structure on scales from a few kilometers to ∼100 km, but some features at the kilometer scales depend on the grid spacing. Mesoscale (tens of kilometers) circulations were clearly evident on 2 of the 4 days (30 May and 20 June), clearly not evident on 1 day (22 June), with the situation for the fourth day (17 June) ambiguous. Both observed and modeled surface-heterogeneity-generated mesoscale circulations are evident for 30 May. On the other hand, 20 June satellite images show north-northwest–south-southeast cloud streets (rolls) modulated longitudinally, presumably by tropospheric gravity waves oriented normal to the roll axis, creating northeast–southwest ridges and valleys spaced 50–100 km apart. Modeled cloud streets showed similar longitudinal modulation, with the associated two-dimensional structure having maximum amplitude above the CBL and no relationship to the CBL temperature distribution; although there were patches of mesoscale vertical velocity correlated with CBL temperature. On 22 June, convective rolls were the dominant structure in both model and observations.

For the 3 days for which satellite images show cloud streets, WRF produces rolls with the right orientation and wavelength, which grows with CBL depth. Modeled roll structures appeared for the range of CBL depth to Obukhov length ratios (−zi/L) associated with rolls. However, sensitivity tests show that the roll wavelength is also related to the grid spacing, and the modeled convection becomes more cellular with smaller grid spacing.

Full access
Roger M. Wakimoto and Hanne V. Murphey

Abstract

An analysis of a dryline that did not initiate convection during the observational period is presented. The dryline was the weakest kinematic boundary observed during the International H2O Project (IHOP), but was associated with a large moisture gradient. Detailed dual-Doppler wind syntheses from an airborne Doppler radar were combined with radar refractivity measurements providing a rare opportunity to examine both the kinematic and moisture characteristics of this boundary. The radar thin line denotes the approximate kinematic position of the dryline and was quasi-linear on this day. In contrast, the moisture pattern across the dryline was more complex than was suggested by the characteristics of the thin line. Prominent in the horizontal plots was the presence of narrow (few kilometers wide) channels of moisture extending 15–20 km into the dry air mass. Past studies have suggested that echo thin lines observed in the clear air can be used as a proxy for delineating the moisture contrast across the dryline. In contrast, the “moisture extrusions” were present even though the thin line was quasi-linear and were located in weak-echo regions along the thin line. It is hypothesized that transverse rolls developed at an angle to the boundary layer winds and intersected the dryline. The kinematic airflow associated with these rolls could have protected the moist tongues from the eroding effect of the dry flow west of the dryline. The moisture extrusions appear to diminish with time as they mix with the surrounding dry air.

Full access
F. Couvreux, F. Guichard, P. H. Austin, and F. Chen

Abstract

Mesoscale water vapor heterogeneities in the boundary layer are studied within the context of the International H2O Project (IHOP_2002). A significant portion of the water vapor variability in the IHOP_2002 occurs at the mesoscale, with the spatial pattern and the magnitude of the variability changing from day to day. On 14 June 2002, an atypical mesoscale gradient is observed, which is the reverse of the climatological gradient over this area. The factors causing this water vapor variability are investigated using complementary platforms (e.g., aircraft, satellite, and in situ) and models. The impact of surface flux heterogeneities and atmospheric variability are evaluated separately using a 1D boundary layer model, which uses surface fluxes from the High-Resolution Land Data Assimilation System (HRLDAS) and early-morning atmospheric temperature and moisture profiles from a mesoscale model. This methodology, based on the use of robust modeling components, allows the authors to tackle the question of the nature of the observed mesoscale variability. The impact of horizontal advection is inferred from a careful analysis of available observations. By isolating the individual contributions to mesoscale water vapor variability, it is shown that the observed moisture variability cannot be explained by a single process, but rather involves a combination of different factors: the boundary layer height, which is strongly controlled by the surface buoyancy flux, the surface latent heat flux, the early-morning heterogeneity of the atmosphere, horizontal advection, and the radiative impact of clouds.

Full access
Margaret A. LeMone, Mukul Tewari, Fei Chen, Joseph G. Alfieri, and Dev Niyogi

Abstract

Sources of differences between observations and simulations for a case study using the Noah land surface model–based High-Resolution Land Data Assimilation System (HRLDAS) are examined for sensible and latent heat fluxes H and LE, respectively; surface temperature Ts; and vertical temperature difference T 0Ts, where T 0 is at 2 m. The observational data were collected on 29 May 2002, using the University of Wyoming King Air and four surface towers placed along a sparsely vegetated 60-km north–south flight track in the Oklahoma Panhandle. This day had nearly clear skies and a strong north–south soil-moisture gradient, with wet soils and widespread puddles at the south end of the track and drier soils to the north. Relative amplitudes of H and LE horizontal variation were estimated by taking the slope of the least squares best-fit straight line ΔLE/ΔH on plots of time-averaged LE as a function of time-averaged H for values along the track. It is argued that observed H and LE values departing significantly from their slope line are not associated with surface processes and, hence, need not be replicated by HRLDAS. Reasonable agreement between HRLDAS results and observed data was found only after adjusting the coefficient C in the Zilitinkevich equation relating the roughness lengths for momentum and heat in HRLDAS from its default value of 0.1 to a new value of 0.5. Using C = 0.1 and adjusting soil moisture to match the observed near-surface values increased horizontal variability in the right sense, raising LE and lowering H over the moist south end. However, both the magnitude of H and the amplitude of its horizontal variability relative to LE remained too large; adjustment of the green vegetation fraction had only a minor effect. With C = 0.5, model-input green vegetation fraction, and our best-estimate soil moisture, H, LE, ΔLE/ΔH, and T 0Ts, were all close to observed values. The remaining inconsistency between model and observations—too high a value of H and too low a value of LE over the wet southern end of the track—could be due to HRLDAS ignoring the effect of open water. Neglecting the effect of moist soils on the albedo could also have contributed.

Full access
John R. Mecikalski, Kristopher M. Bedka, Simon J. Paech, and Leslie A. Litten

Abstract

The goal of this project is to validate and extend a study by Mecikalski and Bedka that capitalized on information the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) instruments provide for nowcasting (i.e., 0–1-h forecasting) convective initiation through the real-time monitoring of cloud-top properties for moving cumuli. Convective initiation (CI) is defined as the first occurrence of a ≥35-dBZ radar echo from a cumuliform cloud. Mecikalski and Bedka’s study concluded that eight infrared GOES-based “interest fields” of growing cumulus clouds should be monitored over 15–30-min intervals toward predicting CI: the transition of cloud-top brightness temperature to below 0°C, cloud-top cooling rates, and instantaneous and time trends of channel differences 6.5–10.7 and 13.3–10.7 μm. The study results are as follows: 1) measures of accuracy and uncertainty of Mecikalski and Bedka’s algorithm via commonly used skill scoring procedures, and 2) a report on the relative importance of each interest field to nowcasting CI using GOES. It is found that for nonpropagating convective events, the skill scores are dependent on which CI interest fields are considered per pixel and are optimized when three–four fields are met for a given 1-km GOES pixel in terms of probability of detection, and threat and Heidke skill scores. The lowest false-alarm rates are found when one field is used: that associated with cloud-top glaciation 30 min prior to CI. Subsequent recommendations for future research toward improving Mecikalski and Bedka’s study are suggested especially with regard to constraining CI nowcasts when inhibiting factors are present (e.g., capping inversions).

Full access
Monica Górska, Jordi Vilà-Guerau de Arellano, Margaret A. LeMone, and Chiel C. van Heerwaarden

Abstract

The effects of the horizontal variability of surface properties on the turbulent fluxes of virtual potential temperature, moisture, and carbon dioxide are investigated by combining aircraft observations with large-eddy simulations (LESs). Daytime fair-weather aircraft measurements from the 2002 International H2O Project’s 45-km Eastern Track over mixed grassland and winter wheat in southeast Kansas reveal that the western part of the atmospheric boundary layer was warmer and drier than the eastern part, with higher values of carbon dioxide to the east. The temperature and specific humidity patterns are consistent with the pattern of surface fluxes produced by the High-Resolution Land Data Assimilation System. However, the observed turbulent fluxes of virtual potential temperature, moisture, and carbon dioxide, computed as a function of longitude along the flight track, do not show a clear east–west trend. Rather, the fluxes at 70 m above ground level related better to the surface variability quantified in terms of the normalized differential vegetation index (NDVI), with strong correlation between carbon dioxide fluxes and NDVI.

A first attempt is made to estimate the ratios of the flux at the entrainment zone to the surface flux (entrainment ratios) as a function of longitude. The entrainment ratios averaged from these observations (β θυ ≈ 0.10, βq ≈ −2.4, and β CO2 ≈ −0.58) are similar to the values found from the homogeneous LES experiment with initial and boundary conditions similar to observations.

To understand how surface flux heterogeneity influences turbulent fluxes higher up, a heterogeneous LES experiment is performed in a domain with higher sensible and lower latent heat fluxes in the western half compared to the eastern half. In contrast to the aircraft measurements, the LES turbulent fluxes show a difference in magnitude between the eastern and western halves at 70 and 700 m above ground level. Possible reasons for these differences between results from LES and aircraft measurements are discussed.

Full access