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Joshua P. Hacker and Lili Lei

Abstract

Ensemble sensitivities have proven a useful alternative to adjoint sensitivities for large-scale dynamics, but their performance in multiscale flows has not been thoroughly examined. When computing sensitivities, the analysis covariance is usually approximated with the corresponding diagonal matrix, leading to a simple univariate regression problem rather than a more general multivariate regression problem. Sensitivity estimates are affected by sampling error arising from a finite ensemble and can lead to an overestimated response to an analysis perturbation. When forecasts depend on many details of an analysis, it is reasonable to expect that the diagonal approximation is too severe. Because spurious covariances are more likely when correlations are weak, computing the sensitivity with a multivariate regression that retains the full analysis covariance may increase the need for sampling error mitigation. The purpose of this work is to clarify the effects of the diagonal approximation, and investigate the need for mitigating spurious covariances arising from sampling error. A two-scale model with realistic spatial covariances is the basis for experimentation. For most problems, an efficient matrix inversion is possible by finding a minimum-norm solution, and employing appropriate matrix factorization. A published hierarchical approach for estimating regression factors for tapering (localizing) covariances is used to measure the effects of sampling error. Compared to univariate regressions in the diagonal approximation, skill in predicting a nonlinear response from the linear sensitivities is superior when localized multivariate sensitivities are used, particularly when fast scales are present, model error is present, and the observing network is sparse.

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Manuela Lehner, C. David Whiteman, Sebastian W. Hoch, Derek Jensen, Eric R. Pardyjak, Laura S. Leo, Silvana Di Sabatino, and Harindra J. S. Fernando

Abstract

Observations were taken on an east-facing sidewall at the foot of a desert mountain that borders a large valley, as part of the Mountain Terrain Atmospheric Modeling and Observations (MATERHORN) field program at Dugway Proving Ground in Utah. A case study of nocturnal boundary layer development is presented for a night in mid-May when tethered-balloon measurements were taken to supplement other MATERHORN field measurements. The boundary layer development over the slope could be divided into three distinct phases during this night: 1) The evening transition from daytime upslope/up-valley winds to nighttime downslope winds was governed by the propagation of the shadow front. Because of the combination of complex topography at the site and the solar angle at this time of year, the shadow moved down the sidewall from approximately northwest to southeast, with the flow transition closely following the shadow front. 2) The flow transition was followed by a 3–4-h period of almost steady-state boundary layer conditions, with a shallow slope-parallel surface inversion and a pronounced downslope flow with a jet maximum located within the surface-based inversion. The shallow slope boundary layer was very sensitive to ambient flows, resulting in several small disturbances. 3) After approximately 2300 mountain standard time, the inversion that had formed over the adjacent valley repeatedly sloshed up the mountain sidewall, disturbing local downslope flows and causing rapid temperature drops.

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Jeffrey D. Massey, W. James Steenburgh, Sebastian W. Hoch, and Jason C. Knievel

Abstract

Weather Research and Forecasting Model forecasts over the Great Salt Lake Desert erroneously underpredict nocturnal cooling over the sparsely vegetated silt loam soil area of Dugway Proving Ground in northern Utah, with a mean positive bias error in temperature at 2 m AGL of 3.4°C in the early morning [1200 UTC (0500 LST)]. Positive early-morning bias errors also exist in nearby sandy loam soil areas. These biases are related to the improper initialization of soil moisture and parameterization of soil thermal conductivity in silt loam and sandy loam soils. Forecasts of 2-m temperature can be improved by initializing with observed soil moisture and by replacing Johansen's 1975 parameterization of soil thermal conductivity in the Noah land surface model with that proposed by McCumber and Pielke in 1981 for silt loam and sandy loam soils. Case studies illustrate that this change can dramatically reduce nighttime warm biases in 2-m temperature over silt loam and sandy loam soils, with the greatest improvement during periods of low soil moisture. Predicted ground heat flux, soil thermal conductivity, near-surface radiative fluxes, and low-level thermal profiles also more closely match observations. Similar results are anticipated in other dryland regions with analogous soil types, sparse vegetation, and low soil moisture.

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Hailing Zhang, Zhaoxia Pu, and Xuebo Zhang

Abstract

The performance of an advanced research version of the Weather Research and Forecasting Model (WRF) in predicting near-surface atmospheric temperature and wind conditions under various terrain and weather regimes is examined. Verification of 2-m temperature and 10-m wind speed and direction against surface Mesonet observations is conducted. Three individual events under strong synoptic forcings (i.e., a frontal system, a low-level jet, and a persistent inversion) are first evaluated. It is found that the WRF model is able to reproduce these weather phenomena reasonably well. Forecasts of near-surface variables in flat terrain generally agree well with observations, but errors also occur, depending on the predictability of the lower-atmospheric boundary layer. In complex terrain, forecasts not only suffer from the model's inability to reproduce accurate atmospheric conditions in the lower atmosphere but also struggle with representative issues due to mismatches between the model and the actual terrain. In addition, surface forecasts at finer resolutions do not always outperform those at coarser resolutions. Increasing the vertical resolution may not help predict the near-surface variables, although it does improve the forecasts of the structure of mesoscale weather phenomena. A statistical analysis is also performed for 120 forecasts during a 1-month period to further investigate forecast error characteristics in complex terrain. Results illustrate that forecast errors in near-surface variables depend strongly on the diurnal variation in surface conditions, especially when synoptic forcing is weak. Under strong synoptic forcing, the diurnal patterns in the errors break down, while the flow-dependent errors are clearly shown.

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