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The ratio between observed surface and geostrophic wind speed has been investigated from observations at the German Bight, taking geostrophic wind and the air-sea temperature difference as parameters. The ratio decreases with increasing geostrophic wind and increasing stability. While stability is an important parameter for light to moderate winds, variation of the ratio with geostrophic wind speed cannot be neglected, taking the full range of geostrophic wind speeds into consideration. From the Navier-Stokes equations, such a variation is to be expected. For light winds, the (local) surface wind may exceed the (mesoscale) geostrophic wind. Both effects together can be described approximately by a linear relation between the surface wind and geostrophic wind, with a slope of 0.56 and a constant term b>0 varying with stability. The residual error was 2 m/s. Variation with latitude is inferred from the Navier-Stokes equations.

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The vertical and horizontal mass and energy transports for the layer between the sea surface and 700 mb are calculated for the first (undisturbed) period of the Atlantic Trade-Wind Experiment 1969. The trade-wind inversion represents a layer with a strong downward mass flux due to the mean motion. The height of the inversion and its thermodynamic properties seem to depend on the balance between the mean atmospheric sinking and the turbulent mixing.

Because of the vertical transport from the sea surface into the atmosphere, this process assures that water vapor is totally accumulated in the layer below the inversion and transported downstream into the equatorial trough region. Thus the effectiveness of the atmospheric heat absorption in the trades as a force for driving the large-scale circulation is closely related to the vertical static structure as well as to the kinematic field of the low-level trade-wind region.

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Volker Wulfmeyer, David D. Turner, B. Baker, R. Banta, A. Behrendt, T. Bonin, W. A. Brewer, M. Buban, A. Choukulkar, E. Dumas, R. M. Hardesty, T. Heus, J. Ingwersen, D. Lange, T. R. Lee, S. Metzendorf, S. K. Muppa, T. Meyers, R. Newsom, M. Osman, S. Raasch, J. Santanello, C. Senff, F. Späth, T. Wagner, and T. Weckwerth


Forecast errors with respect to wind, temperature, moisture, clouds, and precipitation largely correspond to the limited capability of current Earth system models to capture and simulate land–atmosphere feedback. To facilitate its realistic simulation in next-generation models, an improved process understanding of the related complex interactions is essential. To this end, accurate 3D observations of key variables in the land–atmosphere (L–A) system with high vertical and temporal resolution from the surface to the free troposphere are indispensable.

Recently, we developed a synergy of innovative ground-based, scanning active remote sensing systems for 2D to 3D measurements of wind, temperature, and water vapor from the surface to the lower troposphere that is able to provide comprehensive datasets for characterizing L–A feedback independently of any model input. Several new applications are introduced, such as the mapping of surface momentum, sensible heat, and latent heat fluxes in heterogeneous terrain; the testing of Monin–Obukhov similarity theory and turbulence parameterizations; the direct measurement of entrainment fluxes; and the development of new flux-gradient relationships. An experimental design taking advantage of the sensors’ synergy and advanced capabilities was realized for the first time during the Land Atmosphere Feedback Experiment (LAFE), conducted at the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Program Southern Great Plains site in August 2017. The scientific goals and the strategy of achieving them with the LAFE dataset are introduced. We envision the initiation of innovative L–A feedback studies in different climate regions to improve weather forecast, climate, and Earth system models worldwide.

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