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Rob K. Newsom and Robert M. Banta

Abstract

This study investigates a shear-flow instability observed in the stably stratified nighttime boundary layer on 6 October 1999 during the Cooperative Atmosphere–Surface Exchange Study (CASES-99) in south-central Kansas. A scanning Doppler lidar captured the spatial structure and evolution of the instability, and high-rate in situ sensors mounted on a nearby 60-m tower provided stability and turbulence data with excellent vertical resolution. Data from these instruments are analyzed and linear stability analysis (LSA) is employed to carefully characterize the wave field, its interaction with the mean flow, and its role in turbulence generation.

The event persisted for about 30 min and was confined within the shear zone between the surface and a low-level jet (LLJ) maximum. Eigenvalues corresponding to the fastest growing mode of the LSA showed good agreement with the basic wave parameters determined from the lidar data. Good qualitative agreement was also obtained between the eigenfunction of the fastest growing mode and the vertical profile of the dominant Fourier mode in wavenumber spectra from spatially resolved lidar data. The height of the measured momentum flux divergence associated with the wave motion was consistent with the LSA prediction of the height of the critical level.

Data show that the instability was triggered by an increase in shear due to a slowing of the flow below the LLJ maximum. This low-level slowing produced a local maximum in the shear profile, which was elevated above the surface. The speed and height of the LLJ remained relatively constant before, during, and after the event. Prior to the event turbulent momentum flux increased as the shear increased and as the gradient Richardson number decreased. With the onset of wave activity, a sudden increase in downward wave-momentum flux was accompanied by a sharp reduction in shear near the critical level.

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Robert M. Banta, Yelena L. Pichugina, and Rob K. Newsom

Abstract

In the nighttime stable boundary layer (SBL), shear and turbulence are generated in the layer between the maximum of the low-level jet (LLJ) and the earth's surface. Here, it is investigated whether gross properties of the LLJ—its height and speed—could be used to diagnose turbulence intensities in this subjet layer. Data on the height and speed of the LLJ maximum were available at high vertical and temporal resolution using the high-resolution Doppler lidar (HRDL). These data were used to estimate a subjet layer shear, which was computed as the ratio of the speed to the height of the jet maximum, and a jet Richardson number RiJ, averaged at 15-min intervals for 10 nights when HRDL LLJ data were available for this study. The shear and RiJ values were compared with turbulence kinetic energy (TKE) values measured near the top of the 60-m tower at the Cooperative Atmosphere–Surface Exchange Study-1999 (CASES-99) main site. TKE values were small for RiJ greater than 0.4, but as RiJ decreased to less than ∼0.4, TKE values increased, indicating that RiJ does have merit in estimating turbulence magnitudes. Another interesting finding was that shear values tended to cluster around a constant value of 0.1 s−1 for TKE values that were not too small, that is, for TKE greater than ∼0.1 m2 s−2.

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Tianfeng Chai, Ching-Long Lin, and Rob K. Newsom

Abstract

Radial velocity data measured by high-resolution Doppler lidar (HRDL) are assimilated with a four-dimensional variational data assimilation (4DVAR) method to retrieve microscale flow structures in an atmospheric boundary layer. The control variables of 4DVAR consist of initial three-dimensional velocity and temperature fields, as well as profiles of eddy viscosity and thermal diffusivity. The effects of lateral boundary conditions and buffer zones on the retrieval quality are evaluated using identical twin experiments with synthetic observational data prior to HRDL data retrieval. It is found that use of inflow/outflow boundary conditions in conjunction with buffer zones yields good results. HRDL field observations are then assimilated with 4DVAR, together with the above treatment of boundaries to recover microscale flow structures in a convective boundary layer. The uncertainty of the retrieved data is assessed by conducting a grid sensitivity test. A large-scale flow structure resembling a dry microburst is observed in the retrieved wind field. Characteristics of this structure are discussed and compared with those of a typical microburst.

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Quanxin Xia, Ching-Long Lin, Ronald Calhoun, and Rob K. Newsom

Abstract

Two coherent Doppler lidars from the U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) and Arizona State University (ASU) were deployed in the Joint Urban 2003 atmospheric dispersion field experiment (JU2003) held in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The dual-lidar data were used to evaluate the accuracy of a four-dimensional variational data assimilation (4DVAR) method and to identify the coherent flow structures in the urban boundary layer. The objectives of the study are threefold. The first objective is to examine the effect of eddy viscosity models on the quality of retrieved velocity data. The second objective is to determine the fidelity of single-lidar 4DVAR and evaluate the difference between single- and dual-lidar retrievals. The third objective is to inspect flow structures above some geospatial features on the land surface. It is found that the approach of treating eddy viscosity as part of the control variables yields better results than the approach of prescribing viscosity. The ARL single-lidar 4DVAR is able to retrieve radial velocity fields with an accuracy of 98% in the along-beam direction and 80%–90% in the cross-beam direction. For the dual-lidar 4DVAR, the accuracy of retrieved radial velocity in the ARL cross-beam direction improves to 90%–94% of the ASU radial velocity data. By using the dual-lidar-retrieved data as a reference, the single-lidar 4DVAR is able to recover fluctuating velocity fields with 70%–80% accuracy in the along-beam direction and 60%–70% accuracy in the cross-beam direction. Large-scale convective roll structures are found in the vicinity of the downtown airport and parks. Vortical structures are identified near the business district. Strong up- and downdrafts are also found above a cluster of restaurants.

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Philippe Drobinski, Pierre Carlotti, Jean-Luc Redelsperger, Valery Masson, Robert M. Banta, and Rob K. Newsom

Abstract

This study combines the experimental measurements with large-eddy simulation (LES) data of a neutral planetary boundary layer (PBL) documented by a 60-m tower instrumented with eight sonic anemometers, and a high-resolution Doppler lidar during the 1999 Cooperative Atmospheric and Surface Exchange Study (CASES-99) experiment. The target of the paper is (i) to investigate the multiscale nature of the turbulent eddies in the surface layer (SL), (ii) to explain the existence of a −1 power law in the velocity fluctuation spectra, and (iii) to investigate the different nature of turbulence in the two sublayers within the SL, which are the eddy surface layer (ESL; lower sublayer of the SL lying between the surface and about 20-m height) and the shear surface layer (SSL; lying between the ESL top and the SL top). The sonic anemometers and Doppler lidar prove to be proper instruments for LES validation, and in particular, the Doppler lidar because of its ability to map near-surface eddies.

This study shows the different nature of turbulence in the ESL and the SSL in terms of organized eddies, velocity fluctuation spectra, and second-order moment statistics. If quantitative agreement is found in the SSL between the LES and the measurements, only qualitative similarity is found in the ESL due to the subgrid-scale model, indicating that the LES captures part of the physics of the ESL. The LES helps explain the origin of the −1 power-law spectral subrange evidence in the velocity fluctuation spectra computed in the SL using the CASES-99 dataset: strong interaction between the mean flow and the fluctuating vorticities is found in the SL, and turbulent production is found to be larger than turbulent energy transfer for k 1 z > 1 (k 1 being the longitudinal wavenumber and z the height), which is the condition of the −1 power-law existence.

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Philippe Drobinski, Pierre Carlotti, Rob K. Newsom, Robert M. Banta, Ralph C. Foster, and Jean-Luc Redelsperger
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Philippe Drobinski, Pierre Carlotti, Rob K. Newsom, Robert M. Banta, Ralph C. Foster, and Jean-Luc Redelsperger

Abstract

Recent observational data (turbulence variables by sonic anemometers and three-dimensional flow pattern by Doppler lidar), obtained during the Cooperative Atmosphere Surface Exchange Study field campaign in October 1999 (CASES-99), show evidence of a layered structure of the near-neutral surface layer: (i) the eddy surface layer (ESL), which is the lower sublayer where blocking of impinging eddies is the dominating mechanism; and (ii) the shear surface layer (SSL), which is an intermediate sublayer, where shear affects the isotropy of turbulence. The origin of the eddies impinging from aloft (probably from the SSL) down to the ESL is preliminarily addressed in this study, since the Doppler lidar data show evidence of linearly organized eddies embedded in the surface layer (i.e., about 100-m vertical extent) and horizontally spaced by about 300 m. This is consistent with theories predicting that the primary mechanism of eddy motion in high Reynolds number wall layers is “top-down.”

The layered structure of the surface layer also has a visible effect on vertical profiles of vertical velocity variance (w2) and momentum transport. In the ESL, w2 scales as z 2/3 while it is constant or slightly decreases within the SSL. Concerning momentum transport, ejections contribute identically to the momentum flux as do sweeps in the ESL, whereas in the SSL, ejections give about 50% higher relative contribution.

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David C. Fritts, Carmen Nappo, Dennis M. Riggin, Ben B. Balsley, William E. Eichinger, and Rob K. Newsom

Abstract

Data obtained with multiple instruments at the main site of the 1999 Cooperative Atmosphere–Surface Exchange Study (CASES-99) are employed to examine the character and variability of wave motions occurring in the stable nocturnal boundary layer during the night of 14 October 1999. The predominant motions are surprisingly similar in character throughout the night, exhibiting largely westward propagation, horizontal wavelengths of ∼1 to 10 km, phase speeds slightly greater than the mean wind in the direction of propagation, and highly coherent vertical motions with no apparent phase progression with altitude. Additionally, vertical and horizontal velocities are in approximate quadrature and the largest amplitudes occur at elevated altitudes of maximum stratification. These motions are interpreted as ducted gravity waves that propagate along maxima of stratification and mean wind and that are evanescent above, and occasionally below, the altitudes at which they are ducted. Modal structures for ducted waves are computed for mean wind and stratification profiles for three specific cases and are seen to provide a plausible explanation of the observed motions.

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