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F. Couvreux, F. Guichard, P. H. Austin, and F. Chen

Abstract

Mesoscale water vapor heterogeneities in the boundary layer are studied within the context of the International H2O Project (IHOP_2002). A significant portion of the water vapor variability in the IHOP_2002 occurs at the mesoscale, with the spatial pattern and the magnitude of the variability changing from day to day. On 14 June 2002, an atypical mesoscale gradient is observed, which is the reverse of the climatological gradient over this area. The factors causing this water vapor variability are investigated using complementary platforms (e.g., aircraft, satellite, and in situ) and models. The impact of surface flux heterogeneities and atmospheric variability are evaluated separately using a 1D boundary layer model, which uses surface fluxes from the High-Resolution Land Data Assimilation System (HRLDAS) and early-morning atmospheric temperature and moisture profiles from a mesoscale model. This methodology, based on the use of robust modeling components, allows the authors to tackle the question of the nature of the observed mesoscale variability. The impact of horizontal advection is inferred from a careful analysis of available observations. By isolating the individual contributions to mesoscale water vapor variability, it is shown that the observed moisture variability cannot be explained by a single process, but rather involves a combination of different factors: the boundary layer height, which is strongly controlled by the surface buoyancy flux, the surface latent heat flux, the early-morning heterogeneity of the atmosphere, horizontal advection, and the radiative impact of clouds.

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