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  • Author or Editor: Gregory S. Poulos x
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C. David Whiteman
,
Sebastian W. Hoch
, and
Gregory S. Poulos

Abstract

At slope and valley floor sites in the Owens Valley of California, the late afternoon near-surface air temperature decline is often followed by a temporary temperature rise before the expected nighttime cooling resumes. The spatial and temporal patterns of this evening warming phenomenon, as seen in the March/April 2006 Terrain-Induced Rotor Experiment, are investigated using a widely distributed network of 51 surface-based temperature dataloggers. Hypotheses on the causes of the temperature rises are tested using heavily instrumented 34-m meteorological towers that were located within the datalogger array. The evening temperature rise follows the development of a shallow temperature deficit layer over the slopes and floor of the valley in which winds blow downslope. Background winds within the valley, freed from frictional deceleration from the earth’s surface by this layer, accelerate. The increased vertical wind shear across the temperature deficit layer eventually creates shear instability and mixes out the layer, creating the observed warming near the ground. As momentum is exchanged during the mixing event, the wind direction near the surface gradually turns from downslope to the background wind direction. After the short period of warming associated with the mixing, ongoing net radiative loss causes a resumption of the cooling.

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Juerg Schmidli
,
Gregory S. Poulos
,
Megan H. Daniels
, and
Fotini K. Chow

Abstract

The dynamics that govern the evolution of nighttime flows in a deep valley, California’s Owens Valley, are analyzed. Measurements from the Terrain-Induced Rotor Experiment (T-REX) reveal a pronounced valley-wind system with often nonclassical flow evolution. Two cases with a weak high pressure ridge over the study area but very different valley flow evolution are presented. The first event is characterized by the appearance of a layer of southerly flow after midnight local time, sandwiched between a thermally driven low-level downvalley (northerly) flow and a synoptic northwesterly flow aloft. The second event is characterized by an unusually strong and deep downvalley jet, exceeding 15 m s−1. The analysis is based on the T-REX measurement data and the output of high-resolution large-eddy simulations using the Advanced Regional Prediction System (ARPS). Using horizontal grid spacings of 1 km and 350 m, ARPS reproduces the observed flow features for these two cases very well. It is found that the low-level along-valley forcing of the valley wind is the result of a superposition of the local thermal forcing and a midlevel (2–2.5 km MSL) along-valley pressure forcing. The analysis shows that the large difference in valley flow evolution derives primarily from differences in the midlevel pressure forcing, and that the Owens Valley is particularly susceptible to these midlevel external influences because of its specific geometry. The results demonstrate the delicate interplay of forces that can combine to determine the valley flow structure on any given night.

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