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L. Jay Miller, Margaret A. LeMone, William Blumen, Robert L. Grossman, Nimal Gamage, and Robert J. Zamora

Abstract

Observations taken over the period 8–10 March 1992 during the Storm-scale Operational and Research Meteorology Fronts Experiment Systems Test in the central United States are used to document the detailed low-level structure and evolution of a shallow, dry arctic front. The front was characterized by cloudy skies to its north side and clear skies to its south side. It was essentially two-dimensional in the zone of intense observations.

There was a significant diurnal cycle in the magnitude of the potential temperature gradient across both the subsynoptic and mesoscale frontal zones, but imposed upon an underlying, more gradual, increase over the three days. On the warm (cloudless) side., the temperature increased and decreased in response to the diurnal heating cycle, while on the cold (cloudy) side the shape of the temperature decrease from its warm-side value (first dropping rapidly and then slowly in an exponential-like manner) remained fairly steady. The authors attribute the strong diurnal variation in potential temperature gradient mostly to the effects of differential diabatic heating across the front due to differential cloud cover.

The front is described in terms of three scales: 1) a broad, subsynoptic frontal zone (∼250–300 km wide) of modest temperature and wind gradients; 2) a narrower mesoscale zone (∼15–20 km wide) with much larger gradients; and 3) a microscale zone of near-zero-order discontinuity (≤1–2 km wide). There was some narrowing (≲50 km) of the subsynoptic frontal zone, but the authors found no evidence for any significant contraction of this zone down to much smaller mesoscale sizes. In response to the differential diabatic heating, the strongest evolution occurred in the micro-mesoscale zone, where dual-Doppler radar and aircraft measurements revealed the development of a density-current-like structure in and behind the leading edge of cold air. Here the steepest gradients developed shortly after sunrise and then increased by an order of magnitude during the day, with leading-edge vorticity, divergence, and temperature gradients reaching maximum values of 10−2 s−1 and 8 K km−1. A narrow updraft, marked by cumulus clouds, grew in intensity above the leading edge through the day to a maximum of 5–8 m s−1. Stratus clouds lay in the cold air, their leading edge receding by noon to 10–20 km behind the cumulus line.

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Jennifer L. Davison, Robert M. Rauber, Larry Di Girolamo, and Margaret A. LeMone

Abstract

This paper examines the structure and variability of the moisture field in the tropical marine boundary layer (TMBL) as defined by Bragg scattering layers (BSLs) observed with S-band radar. Typically, four to five BSLs were present in the TMBL, including the transition layer at the top of the surface-based mixed layer. The transition-layer depth (~350 m) exhibited a weak diurnal cycle because of changes in the mixed-layer depth. BSLs and the “clear” layers between them each had a median thickness of about 350 m and a lifetime over the radar of 8.4 h, with about 25% having lifetimes longer than 20 h. More (fewer) BSLs were present when surface winds had a more southerly (northerly) component. Both BSLs and clear layers increased in depth with increasing rain rates, with the rainiest days producing layers that were about 100 m thicker than those on the driest days. The analyses imply that the relative humidity (RH) field in the TMBL exhibits layering on scales observable by radar. Satellite and wind profiler measurements show that the layered RH structure is related, at least in part, to detraining cloudy air.

Based on analyses in this series of papers, a revised conceptual model of the TMBL is presented that emphasizes moisture variability and incorporates multiple moist and dry layers and a higher TMBL top. The model is supported by comparing BSL tops with satellite-derived cloud tops. This comparison suggests that the layered RH structure is related, in part, to cloud detrainment at preferred altitudes within the TMBL. The potential ramifications of this change in TMBL conceptualization on modeling of the TMBL are discussed.

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Alexandre O. Fierro, Joanne Simpson, Margaret A. LeMone, Jerry M. Straka, and Bradley F. Smull

Abstract

An airflow trajectory analysis was carried out based on an idealized numerical simulation of the nocturnal 9 February 1993 equatorial oceanic squall line observed over the Tropical Ocean and Global Atmosphere Coupled Ocean–Atmosphere Response Experiment (TOGA COARE) ship array. This simulation employed a nonhydrostatic numerical cloud model, which features a sophisticated 12-class bulk microphysics scheme. A second convective system that developed immediately south of the ship array a few hours later under similar environmental conditions was the subject of intensive airborne quad-Doppler radar observations, allowing observed airflow trajectories to be meaningfully compared to those from the model simulation. The results serve to refine the so-called hot tower hypothesis, which postulated the notion of undiluted ascent of boundary layer air to the high troposphere, which has for the first time been tested through coordinated comparisons with both model output and detailed observations.

For parcels originating ahead (north) of the system near or below cloud base in the boundary layer (BL), the model showed that a majority (>62%) of these trajectories were able to surmount the 10-km level in their lifetime, with about 5% exceeding 14-km altitude, which was near the modeled cloud top (15.5 km). These trajectories revealed that during ascent, most air parcels first experienced a quick decrease of equivalent potential temperature (θe) below 5-km MSL as a result of entrainment of lower ambient θe air. Above the freezing level, ascending parcels experienced an increase in θe with height attributable to latent heat release from ice processes consistent with previous hypotheses. Analogous trajectories derived from the evolving observed airflow during the mature stage of the airborne radar–observed system identified far fewer (∼5%) near-BL parcels reaching heights above 10 km than shown by the corresponding simulation. This is attributed to both the idealized nature of the simulation and to the limitations inherent to the radar observations of near-surface convergence in the subcloud layer.

This study shows that latent heat released above the freezing level can compensate for buoyancy reduction by mixing at lower levels, thus enabling air originating in the boundary layer to contribute to the maintenance of both local buoyancy and the large-scale Hadley cell despite acknowledged dilution by mixing along updraft trajectories. A tropical “hot tower” should thus be redefined as any deep convective cloud with a base in the boundary layer and reaching near the upper-tropospheric outflow layer.

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Fei Chen, David N. Yates, Haruyasu Nagai, Margaret A. LeMone, Kyoko Ikeda, and Robert L. Grossman

Abstract

Land surface heterogeneity over an area of 71 km × 74 km in the lower Walnut River watershed, Kansas, was investigated using models and measurements from the 1997 Cooperative Atmosphere Surface Exchange Study (CASES-97) field experiment. As an alternative approach for studying heterogeneity, a multiscale atmospheric and surface dataset (1, 5, and 10 km) was developed, which was used to drive three land surface models, in uncoupled 1D mode, to simulate the evolution of surface heat fluxes and soil moisture for approximately a 1-month period (16 April–22 May 1997) during which the natural grassland experienced a rapid greening. Model validation using both surface and aircraft measurements showed that these modeled flux maps have reasonable skill in capturing the observed surface heterogeneity related to land-use cover and soil moisture. The results highlight the significance of rapid greening of grassland in shaping the surface heterogeneity for the area investigated. The treatment of soil hydraulic properties and canopy resistance in these land surface models appears to cause the majority of differences among their results. Several factors contributing to the discrepancy between modeled and aircraft measured heat fluxes in relation to their respective time–space integration were examined. When land surface heterogeneity is pronounced, modeled heat fluxes agree better with those measured by aircraft in terms of spatial variability along flight legs. When compared to Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer/Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (AVHRR/NDVI) data, it is demonstrated that modeled heat flux maps with different spatial resolutions can be utilized to study their scaling properties at local or regional scales.

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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.

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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.

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Teddy R. Holt, Dev Niyogi, Fei Chen, Kevin Manning, Margaret A. LeMone, and Aneela Qureshi

Abstract

Numerical simulations are conducted using the Coupled Ocean/Atmosphere Mesoscale Prediction System (COAMPS) to investigate the impact of land–vegetation processes on the prediction of mesoscale convection observed on 24–25 May 2002 during the International H2O Project (IHOP_2002). The control COAMPS configuration uses the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model version of the Noah land surface model (LSM) initialized using a high-resolution land surface data assimilation system (HRLDAS). Physically consistent surface fields are ensured by an 18-month spinup time for HRLDAS, and physically consistent mesoscale fields are ensured by a 2-day data assimilation spinup for COAMPS. Sensitivity simulations are performed to assess the impact of land–vegetative processes by 1) replacing the Noah LSM with a simple slab soil model (SLAB), 2) adding a photosynthesis, canopy resistance/transpiration scheme [the gas exchange/photosynthesis-based evapotranspiration model (GEM)] to the Noah LSM, and 3) replacing the HRLDAS soil moisture with the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) 40-km Eta Data Assimilation (EDAS) operational soil fields.

CONTROL, EDAS, and GEM develop convection along the dryline and frontal boundaries 2–3 h after observed, with synoptic-scale forcing determining the location and timing. SLAB convection along the boundaries is further delayed, indicating that detailed surface parameterization is necessary for a realistic model forecast. EDAS soils are generally drier and warmer than HRLDAS, resulting in more extensive development of convection along the dryline than for CONTROL. The inclusion of photosynthesis-based evapotranspiration (GEM) improves predictive skill for both air temperature and moisture. Biases in soil moisture and temperature (as well as air temperature and moisture during the prefrontal period) are larger for EDAS than HRLDAS, indicating land–vegetative processes in EDAS are forced by anomalously warmer and drier conditions than observed. Of the four simulations, the errors in SLAB predictions of these quantities are generally the largest.

By adding a sophisticated transpiration model, the atmospheric model is able to better respond to the more detailed representation of soil moisture and temperature. The sensitivity of the synoptically forced convection to soil and vegetative processes including transpiration indicates that detailed representation of land surface processes should be included in weather forecasting models, particularly for severe storm forecasting where local-scale information is important.

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David N. Yates, Fei Chen, Margaret A. LeMone, Russell Qualls, Steven P. Oncley, Robert L. Grossman, and Edward A. Brandes

Abstract

A multiscale dataset that includes atmospheric, surface, and subsurface observations obtained from an observation network covering a region that has a scale order comparable to mesoscale and general circulation models is described and analyzed. The dataset is half-hourly time series of forcing and flux response data developed from the one-month Cooperative Atmosphere–Surface Exchange Study (CASES-97) experiment, located in the Walnut Watershed near Wichita, Kansas. The horizontal complexity of this dataset was analyzed by looking at the sensible and latent heat flux response of station data from the three main land surface types of winter wheat, grass/pastureland, and bare soil/sparse vegetation. The variability in the heat flux response at and among the different sites points to the need for a spatially distributed, time-varying atmospheric-forcing dataset for use in land surface modeling experiments. Such a dataset at horizontal spacings of 1, 5, and 10 km was developed from the station data and other remotely sensed platforms, and its spatial heterogeneity was analyzed.

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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.

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Tammy M. Weckwerth, Crystalyne R. Pettet, Frédéric Fabry, Shin Ju Park, Margaret A. LeMone, and James W. Wilson

Abstract

This study will validate the S-band dual-polarization Doppler radar (S-Pol) radar refractivity retrieval using measurements from the International H2O Project conducted in the southern Great Plains in May–June 2002. The range of refractivity measurements during this project extended out to 40–60 km from the radar. Comparisons between the radar refractivity field and fixed and mobile mesonet refractivity values within the S-Pol refractivity domain show a strong correlation. Comparisons between the radar refractivity field and low-flying aircraft also show high correlations. Thus, the radar refractivity retrieval provides a good representation of low-level atmospheric refractivity. Numerous instruments that profile the temperature and moisture are also compared with the refractivity field. Radiosonde measurements, Atmospheric Emitted Radiance Interferometers, and a vertical-pointing Raman lidar show good agreement, especially at low levels. Under most daytime summertime conditions, radar refractivity measurements are representative of an ∼250-m-deep layer. Analyses are also performed on the utility of refractivity for short-term forecasting applications. It is found that the refractivity field may detect low-level boundaries prior to the more traditional radar reflectivity and Doppler velocity fields showing their existence. Data from two days on which convection initiated within S-Pol refractivity range suggest that the refractivity field may exhibit some potential utility in forecasting convection initiation. This study suggests that unprecedented advances in mapping near-surface water vapor and subsequent improvements in predicting convective storms could result from implementing the radar refractivity retrieval on the national network of operational radars.

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