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Youichi Tanimoto, Kou Shimoyama, and Shoichi Mori

Abstract

This paper describes a new initiative in which in situ observations of the marine atmospheric boundary layer (MABL) are made by a helicopter shuttle connecting six islands south of Tokyo. This observation method aims to make frequent measurements of temperature and moisture in the MABL across an ocean front, where direct measurements of the MABL have been limited. An onboard observation system to meet flight regulations was developed. Observed temperature and moisture as a function of pressure at 1-s intervals provided vertical profiles up to the 900-hPa level above each of the islands, from 24 December 2010 to 6 April 2011, with the exception of an accidental power down in mid-February 2011. The observed values are validated by intercomparison with surface measurements from weather stations, atmospheric soundings, and mesoscale weather analysis provided by the Japan Meteorological Agency. Temperature and moisture values obtained using the system described here at the surface are significantly correlated with those from the weather station. The meridional changes revealed by the observed vertical profiles depict rich MABL structures, such as a cold-air intrusion and a strong near-surface inversion, that are not captured by the mesoscale weather analysis. However, this discrepancy is probably due to insufficient treatment in the mesoscale numerical model rather than observational errors. Additional intercomparisons indicate no influence from either artificial mixing by the helicopter rotor or by dynamic pressure caused by the fast-moving helicopter when obtaining the vertical profiles. Following these validations, the continuation of the initiative will allow for examining the influence of the ocean front on the overlying MABL on a synoptic time scale.

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