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Vanda Grubišić
,
Johannes Sachsperger
, and
Rui M. A. Caldeira

Abstract

The island of Madeira is well known for giving rise to atmospheric wakes. Strong and unsteady atmospheric wakes, resembling a von Kármán vortex street, are frequently observed in satellite images leeward of Madeira, especially during summer months, when conditions favoring the formation of atmospheric wakes occur frequently under the influence of the Azores high.

Reported here is the analysis of the first airborne measurements of Madeira’s wake collected during the 2010 Island-induced Wake (I-WAKE) campaign. High-resolution in situ and remote sensing data were collected in the I-WAKE by a research aircraft. The measurements reveal distinctive wake signatures, including strong lateral wind shear zones and warm and dry eddies downwind of the island. A strong anticorrelation of the horizontal wind speed and sea surface temperature (SST) was found within the wake.

High-resolution numerical simulations with the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model were used to study the dynamics of the wake generation and its temporal evolution. The comparison of the model results and observations reveals a remarkable fidelity of the simulated wake features within the marine boundary layer (MBL). Strong potential vorticity (PV) anomalies were found in the simulated MBL wake, emanating from the flanks of the island. The response of the wake formation within the MBL to surface friction and enhanced thermal forcing is explored through the model sensitivity analyses.

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Brian J. Billings
,
Vanda Grubišić
, and
Randolph D. Borys

Abstract

A persistent cold-air pool in the Yampa Valley of northwestern Colorado was simulated with the fifth-generation Pennsylvania State University–National Center for Atmospheric Research Mesoscale Model (MM5). The observed cold-air pool, which was identified by temperature measurements along a line of surface stations ascending the eastern side of the valley, remained in place throughout the day of 10 January 2004. The baseline simulation with horizontal resolution of 1 km, which is close to the resolution of operational regional mesoscale model forecasts, neither matched the strength of the observed cold-air pool nor retained the cold pool throughout the day. Varying the PBL parameterization, increasing the vertical resolution, and increasing the model spinup time did not significantly improve the results. However, the inclusion of snow cover, increased horizontal resolution, and an improved treatment of horizontal diffusion did have a sizable effect on the forecast quality. The snow cover in the baseline simulation was essential for preventing the diurnal heating from eroding the cold pool, but was only sufficient to produce a nearly isothermal temperature structure within the valley, largely because of an increased reflection of solar radiation. The increase of horizontal resolution to 333 and 111 m resulted in a stronger cold-air pool and its retention throughout the day. In addition to improving the resolution of flow features in steep terrain, resulting in, for example, less drainage out of the valley, the increase in horizontal resolution led to a better forecast because of a reduced magnitude of horizontal diffusion calculated along the terrain-following model surfaces. Calculating horizontal diffusion along the constant height levels had a beneficial impact on the quality of the simulations, producing effects similar to those achieved by increasing the horizontal resolution, but at a fraction of the computational cost.

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Ronald B. Smith
,
Arthur C. Gleason
,
Paul A. Gluhosky
, and
Vanda Grubišić

Abstract

The island of St. Vincent and the other Windward Islands in the southeastern Caribbean were chosen as a field site for the study of weak mountain wakes. By the authors’ definition, a “weak wake” forms when the potential vorticity generated by a mountain is not strong enough to advect itself into eddies; rather, it is simply advected downstream by the ambient flow. GOES-8 and Landsat sunglint images unambiguously revealed that the mountainous Windward Islands have remarkably long straight wakes. The length of St. Vincent’s wake exceeds 300 km although its width is only 20 km. Near the islands, the wake structures reflect the details of the island topography. These wakes do not exhibit any obvious diurnal effect.

Boat surveys in the lee of St. Vincent confirmed the existence of features seen in the images: the sharp wake boundary, the small valley-induced jet embedded in the near wake, and the absence of any reverse flow. Aircraft surveys gave evidence of descent over the island and showed that the wake air is relatively warm and dry. The length of the wake (L) agrees with the formula L = H/2C D (where H is the wake depth and C D is the surface drag coefficient), implying that the reacceleration of the wake air is caused by the ambient streamwise pressure gradient rather than by lateral entrainment of momentum or geostrophic adjustment.

Two numerical models were used to simulate St. Vincent’s wake, a single-layer hydrostatic model and a 3D nonhydrostatic model. Both models indicated that air descent, acceleration, wave breaking, and weak potential vorticity generation occur over the island, causing a long straight wake.

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Junhong Wang
,
Jianchun Bian
,
William O. Brown
,
Harold Cole
,
Vanda Grubišić
, and
Kate Young

Abstract

The primary goal of this study is to explore the potential for estimating the vertical velocity (VV) of air from the surface to the stratosphere, using widely available radiosonde and dropsonde data. The rise and fall rates of radiosondes and dropsondes, respectively, are a combination of the VV of the atmosphere and still-air rise–fall rates. The still-air rise–fall rates are calculated using basic fluid dynamics and characteristics of radiosonde and dropsonde systems. This study validates the technique to derive the VV from radiosonde and dropsonde data and demonstrates its value. This technique can be easily implemented by other users for various scientific applications.

The technique has been applied to the Terrain-induced Rotor Experiment (T-REX) dropsonde and radiosonde data. Comparisons among radiosonde, dropsonde, aircraft, and profiling radar vertical velocities show that the sonde-estimated VV is able to capture and describe events with strong vertical motions (larger than ∼1 m s−1) observed during T-REX. The VV below ∼5 km above ground, however, is overestimated by the radiosonde data. The analysis of derived VVs shows interesting features of gravity waves, rotors, and turbulence. Periodic variations of vertical velocity in the stratosphere, as indicated by the radiosonde data, correspond to the horizontal wavelength of gravity waves with an averaged horizontal wavelength of ∼15 km. Two-dimensional VV structure is described in detail by successive dropsonde deployment.

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Jeffrey R. French
,
Samuel J. Haimov
,
Larry D. Oolman
,
Vanda Grubišić
,
Stefano Serafin
, and
Lukas Strauss

Abstract

Two cases of mountain waves, rotors, and the associated turbulence in the lee of the Medicine Bow Mountains in southeastern Wyoming are investigated in a two-part study using aircraft observations and numerical simulations. In Part I, observations from in situ instruments and high-resolution cloud radar on board the University of Wyoming King Air aircraft are presented and analyzed. Measurements from the radar compose the first direct observations of wave-induced boundary layer separation.

The data from these two events show some striking similarities but also significant differences. In both cases, rotors were observed; yet one looks like a classical lee-wave rotor, while the other resembles an atmospheric hydraulic jump with midtropospheric gravity wave breaking aloft. High-resolution (30 × 30 m2) dual-Doppler syntheses of the two-dimensional velocity fields in the vertical plane beneath the aircraft reveal the boundary layer separation, the scale and structure of the attendant rotors, and downslope windstorms. In the stronger of the two events, near-surface winds upwind of the boundary layer separation reached 35 m s−1, and vertical winds were in excess of 10 m s−1. Moderate to strong turbulence was observed within and downstream of these regions. In both cases, the rotor extended horizontally 5–10 km and vertically 2–2.5 km. Horizontal vorticity within the rotor zone reached 0.2 s−1. Several subrotors from 500 to 1000 m in diameter were identified inside the main rotor in one of the cases.

Part II presents a modeling study and investigates the kinematic structure and the dynamic evolution of these two events.

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Vanda Grubišić
,
Stefano Serafin
,
Lukas Strauss
,
Samuel J. Haimov
,
Jeffrey R. French
, and
Larry D. Oolman

Abstract

Mountain waves and rotors in the lee of the Medicine Bow Mountains in southeastern Wyoming are investigated in a two-part paper. Part I by French et al. delivers a detailed observational account of two rotor events: one displays characteristics of a hydraulic jump and the other displays characteristics of a classic lee-wave rotor. In Part II, presented here, results of high-resolution numerical simulations are conveyed and physical processes involved in the formation and dynamical evolution of these two rotor events are examined.

The simulation results reveal that the origin of the observed rotors lies in boundary layer separation, induced by wave perturbations whose amplitudes reach maxima at or near the mountain top. An undular hydraulic jump that gave rise to a rotor in one of these events was found to be triggered by midtropospheric wave breaking and an ensuing strong downslope windstorm. Lee waves spawning rotors developed under conditions favoring wave energy trapping at low levels in different phases of these two events. The upstream shift of the boundary layer separation zone, documented to occur over a relatively short period of time in both events, is shown to be the manifestation of a transition in flow regimes, from downslope windstorms to trapped lee waves, in response to a rapid change in the upstream environment, related to the passage of a short-wave synoptic disturbance aloft.

The model results also suggest that the secondary obstacles surrounding the Medicine Bow Mountains play a role in the dynamics of wave and rotor events by promoting lee-wave resonance in the complex terrain of southeastern Wyoming.

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Ronald B. Smith
,
Bryan K. Woods
,
Jorgen Jensen
,
William A. Cooper
,
James D. Doyle
,
Qingfang Jiang
, and
Vanda Grubišić

Abstract

Using the National Science Foundation (NSF)–NCAR Gulfstream V and the NSF–Wyoming King Air research aircraft during the Terrain-Induced Rotor Experiment (T-REX) in March–April 2006, six cases of Sierra Nevada mountain waves were surveyed with 126 cross-mountain legs. The goal was to identify the influence of the tropopause on waves entering the stratosphere. During each flight leg, part of the variation in observed parameters was due to parameter layering, heaving up and down in the waves. Diagnosis of the combined wave-layering signal was aided with innovative use of new GPS altitude measurements. The ozone and water vapor layering correlated with layered Bernoulli function and cross-flow speed.

GPS-corrected static pressure was used to compute the vertical energy flux, confirming, for the first time, the Eliassen–Palm relation between momentum and energy flux (EF = −U · MF). Kinetic (KE) and potential (PE) wave energy densities were also computed. The equipartition ratio (EQR = PE/KE) changed abruptly across the tropopause, indicating partial wave reflection. In one case (16 April 2006) systematically reversed momentum and energy fluxes were found in the stratosphere above 12 km. On a “wave property diagram,” three families of waves were identified: up- and downgoing long waves (30 km) and shorter (14 km) trapped waves. For the latter two types, an explanation is proposed related to secondary generation near the tropopause and reflection or secondary generation in the lower stratosphere.

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James D. Doyle
,
Vanda Grubišić
,
William O. J. Brown
,
Stephan F. J. De Wekker
,
Andreas Dörnbrack
,
Qingfang Jiang
,
Shane D. Mayor
, and
Martin Weissmann

Abstract

High-resolution observations from scanning Doppler and aerosol lidars, wind profiler radars, as well as surface and aircraft measurements during the Terrain-induced Rotor Experiment (T-REX) provide the first comprehensive documentation of small-scale intense vortices associated with atmospheric rotors that form in the lee of mountainous terrain. Although rotors are already recognized as potential hazards for aircraft, it is proposed that these small-scale vortices, or subrotors, are the most dangerous features because of strong wind shear and the transient nature of the vortices. A life cycle of a subrotor event is captured by scanning Doppler and aerosol lidars over a 5-min period. The lidars depict an amplifying vortex, with a characteristic length scale of ∼500–1000 m, that overturns and intensifies to a maximum spanwise vorticity greater than 0.2 s−1. Radar wind profiler observations document a series of vortices, characterized by updraft/downdraft couplets and regions of enhanced reversed flow, that are generated in a layer of strong vertical wind shear and subcritical Richardson number. The observations and numerical simulations reveal that turbulent subrotors occur most frequently along the leading edge of an elevated sheet of horizontal vorticity that is a manifestation of boundary layer shear and separation along the lee slopes. As the subrotors break from the vortex sheet, intensification occurs through vortex stretching and in some cases tilting processes related to three-dimensional turbulent mixing. The subrotors and ambient vortex sheet are shown to intensify through a modest increase in the upstream inversion strength, which illustrates the predictability challenges for the turbulent characterization of rotors.

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Roy Rasmussen
,
Changhai Liu
,
Kyoko Ikeda
,
David Gochis
,
David Yates
,
Fei Chen
,
Mukul Tewari
,
Michael Barlage
,
Jimy Dudhia
,
Wei Yu
,
Kathleen Miller
,
Kristi Arsenault
,
Vanda Grubišić
,
Greg Thompson
, and
Ethan Gutmann

Abstract

Climate change is expected to accelerate the hydrologic cycle, increase the fraction of precipitation that is rain, and enhance snowpack melting. The enhanced hydrological cycle is also expected to increase snowfall amounts due to increased moisture availability. These processes are examined in this paper in the Colorado Headwaters region through the use of a coupled high-resolution climate–runoff model. Four high-resolution simulations of annual snowfall over Colorado are conducted. The simulations are verified using Snowpack Telemetry (SNOTEL) data. Results are then presented regarding the grid spacing needed for appropriate simulation of snowfall. Finally, climate sensitivity is explored using a pseudo–global warming approach. The results show that the proper spatial and temporal depiction of snowfall adequate for water resource and climate change purposes can be achieved with the appropriate choice of model grid spacing and parameterizations. The pseudo–global warming simulations indicate enhanced snowfall on the order of 10%–25% over the Colorado Headwaters region, with the enhancement being less in the core headwaters region due to the topographic reduction of precipitation upstream of the region (rain-shadow effect). The main climate change impacts are in the enhanced melting at the lower-elevation bound of the snowpack and the increased snowfall at higher elevations. The changes in peak snow mass are generally near zero due to these two compensating effects, and simulated wintertime total runoff is above current levels. The 1 April snow water equivalent (SWE) is reduced by 25% in the warmer climate, and the date of maximum SWE occurs 2–17 days prior to current climate results, consistent with previous studies.

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Bart Geerts
,
David J. Raymond
,
Vanda Grubišić
,
Christopher A. Davis
,
Mary C. Barth
,
Andrew Detwiler
,
Petra M. Klein
,
Wen-Chau Lee
,
Paul M. Markowski
,
Gretchen L. Mullendore
, and
James A. Moore

Abstract

Recommendations are presented for in situ and remote sensing instruments and capabilities needed to advance the study of convection and turbulence in the atmosphere. These recommendations emerged from a community workshop held on 22–24 May 2017 at the National Center for Atmospheric Research and sponsored by the National Science Foundation. Four areas of research were distinguished at this workshop: i) boundary layer flows, including convective and stable boundary layers over heterogeneous land use and terrain conditions; ii) dynamics and thermodynamics of convection, including deep and shallow convection and continental and maritime convection; iii) turbulence above the boundary layer in clouds and in clear air, terrain driven and elsewhere; and iv) cloud microphysical and chemical processes in convection, including cloud electricity and lightning.

The recommendations presented herein address a series of facilities and capabilities, ranging from existing ones that continue to fulfill science needs and thus should be retained and/or incrementally improved, to urgently needed new facilities, to desired capabilities for which no adequate solutions are as yet on the horizon. A common thread among all recommendations is the need for more highly resolved sampling, both in space and in time. Significant progress is anticipated, especially through the improved availability of airborne and ground-based remote sensors to the National Science Foundation (NSF)-supported community.

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