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  • Author or Editor: Derek D. Jensen x
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Jeffrey D. Massey
,
W. James Steenburgh
,
Sebastian W. Hoch
, and
Derek D. Jensen

Abstract

Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model simulations of the autumn 2012 and spring 2013 Mountain Terrain Atmospheric Modeling and Observations Program (MATERHORN) field campaigns are validated against observations of components of the surface energy balance (SEB) collected over contrasting desert-shrub and playa land surfaces of the Great Salt Lake Desert in northwestern Utah. Over the desert shrub, a large underprediction of sensible heat flux and an overprediction of ground heat flux occurred during the autumn campaign when the model-analyzed soil moisture was considerably higher than the measured soil moisture. Simulations that incorporate in situ measurements of soil moisture into the land surface analyses and use a modified parameterization for soil thermal conductivity greatly reduce these errors over the desert shrub but exacerbate the overprediction of latent heat flux over the playa. The Noah land surface model coupled to WRF does not capture the many unusual playa land surface processes, and simulations that incorporate satellite-derived albedo and reduce the saturation vapor pressure over the playa only marginally improve the forecasts of the SEB components. Nevertheless, the forecast of the 2-m temperature difference between the playa and desert shrub improves, which increases the strength of the daytime off-playa breeze. The stronger off-playa breeze, however, does not substantially reduce the mean absolute errors in overall 10-m wind speed and direction. This work highlights some deficiencies of the Noah land surface model over two common arid land surfaces and demonstrates the importance of accurate land surface analyses over a dryland region.

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Matthew E. Jeglum
,
Sebastian W. Hoch
,
Derek D. Jensen
,
Reneta Dimitrova
, and
Zachariah Silver

Abstract

Large temperature fluctuations (LTFs), defined as a drop of the near-surface temperature of at least 3°C in less than 30 min followed by a recovery of at least half of the initial drop, were frequently observed during the Mountain Terrain Atmospheric Modeling and Observations (MATERHORN) program. Temperature time series at over 100 surface stations were examined in an automated fashion to identify and characterize LTFs. LTFs occur almost exclusively at night and at locations elevated 50–100 m above the basin floors, such as the east slope of the isolated Granite Mountain (GM). Temperature drops associated with LTFs were as large as 13°C and were typically greatest at heights of 4–10 m AGL. Observations and numerical simulations suggest that LTFs are the result of complex flow interactions of stably stratified flow with a mountain barrier and a leeside cold-air pool (CAP). An orographic wake forms over GM when stably stratified southwesterly nocturnal flow impinges on GM and is blocked at low levels. Warm crest-level air descends in the lee of the barrier, and the generation of baroclinic vorticity leads to periodic development of a vertically oriented vortex. Changes in the strength or location of the wake and vortex cause a displacement of the horizontal temperature gradient along the slope associated with the CAP edge, resulting in LTFs. This mechanism explains the low frequency of LTFs on the west slope of GM as well as the preference for LTFs to occur at higher elevations later at night, as the CAP depth increases.

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