Abstract

Cold pool events occur when deep layers of stable, cold air remain trapped in a valley or basin for multiple days, without mixing out from daytime heating. With large impacts on air quality, freezing events, and especially on wind energy production, they are often poorly forecast by modern mesoscale numerical weather prediction (NWP) models. Understanding the characteristics of cold pools is, therefore, important to provide more accurate forecasts. This study analyzes cold pool characteristics with data collected during the Second Wind Forecast Improvement Project (WFIP2), which took place in the Columbia River basin and Gorge of Oregon and Washington from fall 2015 until spring 2017. A subset of the instrumentation included three microwave radiometer profilers, six radar wind profilers with radio acoustic sounding systems, and seven sodars, which together provided seven sites with collocated vertical profiles of temperature, humidity, wind speed, and wind direction. Using these collocated observations, we developed a set of criteria to determine if a cold pool was present based on stability, wind speed, direction, and temporal continuity, and then developed an automated algorithm based on these criteria to identify all cold pool events over the 18 months of the field project. Characteristics of these events are described, including statistics of the wind speed distributions and profiles, stability conditions, cold pool depths, and descent rates of the cold pool top. The goal of this study is a better understanding of these characteristics and their processes to ultimately lead to improved physical parameterizations in NWP models, and consequently improve forecasts of cold pool events in the study region as well at other locations that experiences similar events.

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