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  • Author or Editor: William M. Lapenta x
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Richard T. McNider
William M. Lapenta
Arastoo P. Biazar
Gary J. Jedlovec
Ronnie J. Suggs
, and
Jonathan Pleim


In weather forecast and general circulation models the behavior of the atmospheric boundary layer, especially the nocturnal boundary layer, can be critically dependent on the magnitude of the effective model grid-scale bulk heat capacity. Yet, this model parameter is uncertain both in its value and in its conceptual meaning for a model grid in heterogeneous conditions. Current methods for estimating the grid-scale heat capacity involve the areal/volume weighting of heat capacity (resistance) of various, often ill-defined, components. This can lead to errors in model performance in certain parameter spaces. Here, a technique is proposed and tested for recovering bulk heat capacity using time tendencies in satellite-retrieved surface skin temperature (SST). The technique builds upon sensitivity studies that show that surface temperature is most sensitive to thermal inertia in the early evening hours. The retrievals are made within the context of a surface energy budget in a regional-scale model [the fifth-generation Pennsylvania State University–National Center for Atmospheric Research Mesoscale Model (MM5)]. The retrieved heat capacities are used in the forecast model, and it is shown that the model predictions of temperature are improved in the nighttime during the forecast periods.

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