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James D. Doyle, Vanda Grubišić, William O. J. Brown, Stephan F. J. De Wekker, Andreas Dörnbrack, Qingfang Jiang, Shane D. Mayor, and Martin Weissmann

Abstract

High-resolution observations from scanning Doppler and aerosol lidars, wind profiler radars, as well as surface and aircraft measurements during the Terrain-induced Rotor Experiment (T-REX) provide the first comprehensive documentation of small-scale intense vortices associated with atmospheric rotors that form in the lee of mountainous terrain. Although rotors are already recognized as potential hazards for aircraft, it is proposed that these small-scale vortices, or subrotors, are the most dangerous features because of strong wind shear and the transient nature of the vortices. A life cycle of a subrotor event is captured by scanning Doppler and aerosol lidars over a 5-min period. The lidars depict an amplifying vortex, with a characteristic length scale of ∼500–1000 m, that overturns and intensifies to a maximum spanwise vorticity greater than 0.2 s−1. Radar wind profiler observations document a series of vortices, characterized by updraft/downdraft couplets and regions of enhanced reversed flow, that are generated in a layer of strong vertical wind shear and subcritical Richardson number. The observations and numerical simulations reveal that turbulent subrotors occur most frequently along the leading edge of an elevated sheet of horizontal vorticity that is a manifestation of boundary layer shear and separation along the lee slopes. As the subrotors break from the vortex sheet, intensification occurs through vortex stretching and in some cases tilting processes related to three-dimensional turbulent mixing. The subrotors and ambient vortex sheet are shown to intensify through a modest increase in the upstream inversion strength, which illustrates the predictability challenges for the turbulent characterization of rotors.

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Philip A. Feiner, William H. Brune, David O. Miller, Li Zhang, Ronald C. Cohen, Paul S. Romer, Allen H. Goldstein, Frank N. Keutsch, Kate M. Skog, Paul O. Wennberg, Tran B. Nguyen, Alex P. Teng, Joost DeGouw, Abigail Koss, Robert J. Wild, Steven S. Brown, Alex Guenther, Eric Edgerton, Karsten Baumann, and Juliane L. Fry

Abstract

The chemical species emitted by forests create complex atmospheric oxidation chemistry and influence global atmospheric oxidation capacity and climate. The Southern Oxidant and Aerosol Study (SOAS) provided an opportunity to test the oxidation chemistry in a forest where isoprene is the dominant biogenic volatile organic compound. Hydroxyl (OH) and hydroperoxyl (HO2) radicals were two of the hundreds of atmospheric chemical species measured, as was OH reactivity (the inverse of the OH lifetime). OH was measured by laser-induced fluorescence (LIF) and by taking the difference in signals without and with an OH scavenger that was added just outside the instrument’s pinhole inlet. To test whether the chemistry at SOAS can be simulated by current model mechanisms, OH and HO2 were evaluated with a box model using two chemical mechanisms: Master Chemical Mechanism, version 3.2 (MCMv3.2), augmented with explicit isoprene chemistry and MCMv3.3.1. Measured and modeled OH peak at about 106 cm−3 and agree well within combined uncertainties. Measured and modeled HO2 peak at about 27 pptv and also agree well within combined uncertainties. Median OH reactivity cycled between about 11 s−1 at dawn and about 26 s−1 during midafternoon. A good test of the oxidation chemistry is the balance between OH production and loss rates using measurements; this balance was observed to within uncertainties. These SOAS results provide strong evidence that the current isoprene mechanisms are consistent with measured OH and HO2 and, thus, capture significant aspects of the atmospheric oxidation chemistry in this isoprene-rich forest.

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