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  • Author or Editor: John D. Horel x
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Daniel E. Zumpfe
and
John D. Horel

Abstract

Winds at the Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) during the April–October period from 1948 to 2003 have been observed to shift to the north (up-valley direction) between late morning and afternoon on over 70% of the days without precipitation. Lake-breeze fronts that develop as a result of the differential heating between the air over the nearby Great Salt Lake and that over the lake’s surroundings are observed at SLC only a few times each month. Fewer lake-breeze fronts are observed during late July–early September than before or after that period. Interannual fluctuations in the areal extent of the shallow Great Salt Lake contribute to year-to-year variations in the number of lake-breeze frontal passages at SLC. Data collected during the Vertical Transport and Mixing Experiment (VTMX) of October 2000 are used to examine the structure and evolution of a lake-breeze front that moved through the Salt Lake Valley on 17 October. The onset of upslope and up-valley winds occurred within the valley prior to the passage of the lake-breeze front. The lake-breeze front moved at roughly 3 m s−1 up the valley and was characterized near the surface by an abrupt increase in wind speed and dewpoint temperature over a distance of 3–4 km. Rapid vertical mixing of aerosols at the top of the 600–800-m-deep boundary layer was evident as the front passed.

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Kevin M. Craft
and
John D. Horel

Abstract

Desert playas, such as those in northern Utah, form a landscape often in stark contrast to surrounding mountain ranges due to their minimal topographic relief, lack of vegetation, and saline soils. Dry highly reflective halite surfaces, which make up many of the desert playas in northern Utah, are generally characterized by a surface albedo over 40%. However, their albedo can be reduced abruptly to less than 20% by flooding due to rainfall, runoff from surrounding higher terrain, or surface winds transporting shallow water across the playas. A weather station installed during September 2016 to study the Bonneville Salt Flats (BSF) in northern Utah provides estimates of surface albedo that can be related to cycles of flooding and desiccation of the halite surface. The normalized difference water index (NDWI) derived from the MODIS MOD09A1 land surface reflectance product estimates the fractional coverage of surface water over the BSF. NDWI values computed over 8-day periods from 2000 to 2018 highlight year-to-year and seasonal variations in playa flooding events over the BSF. Periods of playa flooding were observed with both ground-based observations and NDWI with sharp reductions in albedo when the surface is flooded.

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John D. Horel
and
Xia Dong

Abstract

This study estimates whether surface observations of temperature, moisture, and wind at some stations in the continental United States are less critical than others for specifying weather conditions in the vicinity of those stations. Two-dimensional variational analyses of temperature, relative humidity, and wind were created for selected midday hours during summer 2008. This set of 8925 control analyses was derived from 5-km-resolution background fields and Remote Automated Weather Station (RAWS) and National Weather Service (NWS) observations within roughly 4° × 4° latitude–longitude domains. Over 570 000 cross-validation experiments were completed to assess the impact of removing each RAWS and NWS station. The presence of observational assets within relatively close proximity to one another is relatively common. The sensitivity to removing temperature, relative humidity, or wind observations varies regionally and depends on the complexity of the surrounding terrain and the representativeness of the observations. Cost savings for the national RAWS program by removing a few stations may be possible. However, nearly all regions of the country remain undersampled, especially mountainous regions of the western United States frequently affected by wildfires.

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Craig B. Clements
,
C. David Whiteman
, and
John D. Horel

Abstract

The evolution of potential temperature and wind structure during the buildup of nocturnal cold-air pools was investigated during clear, dry, September nights in Utah's Peter Sinks basin, a 1-km-diameter limestone sinkhole that holds the Utah minimum temperature record of −56°C. The evolution of cold-pool characteristics depended on the strength of prevailing flows above the basin. On an undisturbed day, a 30°C diurnal temperature range and a strong nocturnal potential temperature inversion (22 K in 100 m) were observed in the basin. Initially, downslope flows formed on the basin sidewalls. As a very strong potential temperature jump (17 K) developed at the top of the cold pool, however, the winds died within the basin and over the sidewalls. A persistent turbulent sublayer formed below the jump. Turbulent sensible heat flux on the basin floor became negligible shortly after sunset while the basin atmosphere continued to cool. Temperatures over the slopes, except for a 1–2-m-deep layer, became warmer than over the basin center at the same altitude. Cooling rates for the entire basin near sunset were comparable to the 90 W m−2 rate of loss of net longwave radiation at the basin floor, but these rates decreased to only a few watts per square meter by sunrise. This paper compares the observed cold-pool buildup in basins with inversion buildup in valleys.

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Brian K. Blaylock
,
John D. Horel
, and
Erik T. Crosman

Abstract

During the late afternoon of 18 June 2015, ozone concentrations in advance of a strong lake-breeze front arising from the Great Salt Lake in northern Utah were ~20 ppb lower than those in its wake. The lake-breeze progression and ozone concentrations in the valley were monitored by an enhanced observation network that included automated weather stations, a nearby Terminal Doppler Weather Radar, state air quality measurement sites, and mobile platforms, including a news helicopter. Southerly flow opposing the lake breeze increased convergent frontogenesis and delayed the onset of its passage through the Salt Lake valley. Ozone concentrations were exceptionally high aloft at the lake-breeze frontal boundary. The progression of this lake breeze was simulated using the Weather Research and Forecasting Model at 1-km horizontal grid spacing over northern Utah. The model was initialized using hourly analyses from the High Resolution Rapid Refresh model. Errors in the underlying surface initialization were improved by adjusting the areal extent and surface temperature of the lake to observed lake conditions. An urban canopy parameterization is also included. The opposing southerly flow was weaker in the simulation than that observed such that the simulated lake-breeze front occurred too early. Continuous passive tracers initialized within and ahead of the lake breeze highlight the dispersion and transport of pollutants arising from the lake-breeze front. Tracers within the lake breeze are confined near the surface while tracers in advance of the front are lofted over it.

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