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Qingfang Jiang
and
James D. Doyle

Abstract

Two topographically generated cirrus plume events have been examined through satellite observations and real-data simulations. On 30 October 2002, an approximately 70-km-wide cirrus plume, revealed by a high-resolution Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) image and a series of Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) images, originated from the Sierra Nevada ridge and extended northeastward for more than 400 km. On 5 December 2000, an approximately 400-km-wide cloud plume originated from the Southern Rocky Mountain massif and extended eastward for more than 500 km, the development of which was captured by a series of GOES images. The real-data simulations of the two cirrus plume events successfully capture the presence of these plumes and show reasonable agreement with the MODIS and GOES images in terms of the timing, location, orientation, length, and altitude of these cloud plumes. The synoptic and mesoscale aspects of the plume events, and the dynamics and microphysics relevant to the plume formation, have been discussed. Two common ingredients relevant to the cirrus plume formation have been identified, namely, a relatively deep moist layer aloft with high relative humidity and low temperature (≤−40°C near the cloud top), and strong updrafts over high terrain and slow descent downstream in the upper troposphere associated with terrain-induced inertia–gravity waves. The rapid increase of the relative humidity associated with strong updrafts creates a high number concentration of small ice crystals through homogeneous nucleation. The overpopulated ice crystals decrease the relative humidity, which, in return, inhibits small crystals from growing into large crystals. The small crystals with slow terminal velocities (<0.2 m s−1) can be advected hundreds of kilometers before falling out of the moist layer.

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Qingfang Jiang
and
James D. Doyle

Abstract

The characteristics of gravity waves excited by the complex terrain of the central Alps during the intensive observational period (IOP) 8 of the Mesoscale Alpine Programme (MAP) is studied through the analysis of aircraft in situ measurements, GPS dropsondes, radiosondes, airborne lidar data, and numerical simulations.

Mountain wave breaking occurred over the central Alps on 21 October 1999, associated with wind shear, wind turning, and a critical level with Richardson number less than unity just above the flight level (∼5.7 km) of the research aircraft NCAR Electra. The Electra flew two repeated transverses across the Ötztaler Alpen, during which localized turbulence was sampled. The observed maximum vertical motion was 9 m s−1, corresponding to a turbulent kinetic energy (TKE) maximum of 10.5 m2 s−2. Spectrum analysis indicates an inertia subrange up to 5-km wavelength and multiple energy-containing spikes corresponding to a wide range of wavelengths.

Manual analysis of GPS dropsonde data indicates the presence of strong flow descent and a downslope windstorm over the lee slope of the Ötztaler Alpen. Farther downstream, a transition occurs across a deep hydraulic jump associated with the ascent of isentropes and local wind reversal. During the first transverse, the turbulent region is convectively unstable as indicated by a positive sensible heat flux within the turbulent portion of the segment. The TKE derived from the flight-level data indicates multiple narrow spikes, which match the patterns shown in the diagnosed buoyancy production rate of TKE. The turbulence is nonisotropic with the major TKE contribution from the υ-wind component. The convectively unstable zone is advected downstream during the second transverse and the turbulence becomes much stronger and more isotropic.

The downslope windstorm, flow descent, and transition to turbulence through a hydraulic jump are captured by a real-data Coupled Ocean–Atmosphere Mesoscale Predition System (COAMPS) simulation. Several idealized simulations are performed motivated by the observations of multiscale waves forced by the complex terrain underneath. The simulations indicate that multiscale terrain promotes wave breaking, increases mountain drag, and enhances the downslope winds and TKE generation.

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Qingfang Jiang
and
Ronald B. Smith

Abstract

To better understand mountain-induced gravity wave breaking and potential vorticity generation in the troposphere, a two-layer hydrostatic flow over a three-dimensional Witch-of-Agnesi type of mountain is investigated. It is suggested that a two-layer model is the simplest model in which the partitioning of upper- and lower-level wave breaking and dissipation can be studied.

High-resolution shallow water model runs are carried out with unsheared upstream flow and a wide variety of mountain heights. A regime diagram is constructed, in which gravity wave breaking is classified based on shock number, location, and type. It is demonstrated that different types of shocks identified in the numerical simulations can be consistently described using a shock regime diagram, derived from viscous shock theory. Four curious shock properties are shown to influence orographic flow: the steepening requirement, the tendency for external jumps to amplify shear, the bifurcation in external jumps, and the “double shock.” Some results are compared with continuously stratified flow simulations by a nonhydrostatic mesoscale model.

It is demonstrated that vertical wind shear controls the vertical distribution of wave breaking and potential vorticity generation.

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Qingfang Jiang
and
Ronald B. Smith

Abstract

Orographic precipitation is studied by analyzing the sensitivity of numerical simulations to variations in mountain height, width, and wind speed. The emphasis is on upslope lifting over isolated mountains in cold climates. An attempt is made to capture the essential steady-state volume-averaged cloud physics in a pair of coupled nonlinear algebraic equations. To do this, single-pathway snow formation models are analyzed with both linear and nonlinear accretion formulations.

The linear model suggests that the precipitation efficiency is determined by three timescales—the advection timescale (τ a ), fallout timescale (τ f ), and a constant timescale for snow generation (τ cs ). Snow generation is controlled by the ratio of τ cs /τ a and the fraction of the snow that falls to the ground is controlled by the ratio of τ f /τ a .

Nonlinear terms, representing accretion, reduce the utility of the timescale concept by introducing a threshold or “bifurcation” point, that is, a critical condensation rate that separates two states: a precipitating state and a nonprecipitating state. If the condensation rate is below the threshold value, no snow is generated. As it surpasses the threshold value, the snow generation rate increases rapidly. The threshold point is a function of advection and fallout timescales, low-level water content, mountain height, and a collection factor, which is further dependent on the geometries, terminal velocity, and density of snow particles. An approximate formula for precipitation efficiency is given in closed form.

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Qingfang Jiang
and
James D. Doyle

Abstract

The diurnal variation of mountain waves and wave drag associated with flow past mesoscale ridges has been examined using the Coupled Ocean–Atmosphere Mesoscale Prediction System (COAMPS) and an analytical boundary layer (BL) model. The wave drag exhibits substantial diurnal variation in response to the change in the atmospheric BL characteristics, such as the BL depth, shape factor, and stability. During daytime, a convective BL develops, characterized by a shallow shear layer near the surface and a deep well-mixed layer aloft, both of which tend to decrease the wave drag. As a result, the convective BL could significantly weaken mountain waves and reduce the momentum flux by up to 90%. Near the surface, the flow pattern resembles a potential flow with a surface wind maximum located near the ridge crest. During nighttime, a shallow stable BL develops, and the modulation of wave drag by the stable nocturnal BL is governed by the BL Froude number (Fr). If the BL flow is supercritical, the drag increases as Fr decreases toward unity and reaches the maximum around Fr = 1, where the drag could be several times larger than the corresponding free-slip hydrostatic wave drag. If the BL flow is subcritical because of excessive cooling, the drag decreases with decreasing Froude number and the flow pattern near the surface resembles a typical subcritical solution with the wind maximum located near the ridge crest.

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Qingfang Jiang
,
Shouping Wang
, and
Peter Sullivan

Abstract

The characteristics of wind profiles in a neutral atmospheric boundary layer and their dependence on the geostrophic wind speed U g , Coriolis parameter f, and surface roughness length z 0 are examined utilizing large-eddy simulations. These simulations produce a constant momentum flux layer and a log-law layer above the surface characterized by a logarithmic increase of wind speed with height. The von Kármán constant derived from the mean wind profile is around 0.4 over a wide range of control parameters. The depths of the simulated boundary layer, constant-flux layer, and surface log-law layer tend to increase with the wind speed and decrease with an increasing Coriolis parameter. Immediately above the surface log-law layer, a second log-law layer has been identified from these simulations. The depth of this upper log-law layer is comparable to its counterpart in the surface layer, and the wind speed can be scaled as , as opposed to just in the surface log-law layer, implying that in addition to surface processes, the upper log-law layer is also influenced by Earth’s rotation and large-scale conditions. Here is the friction velocity at the surface, and h is the boundary layer depth. An analytical model is proposed to assist in the interpretation of the log laws in a typical Ekman boundary layer. The physics and implications of the upper log-law layer are discussed.

Open access
Qingfang Jiang
,
Shouping Wang
, and
Larry O’Neill

Abstract

The characteristics and dynamics of the Chilean low-level coastal jet (CLLCJ) are examined here through diagnosing real-time mesoscale model forecasts in support of the Variability of the American Monsoon System (VAMOS) Ocean–Cloud–Atmosphere Land Study (VOCALS) and additional sensitivity simulations. The forecasted surface winds over the southeast Pacific compare favorably with available observations. According to the forecasts and sensitivity simulations, the Southeast Pacific high pressure system (SEPH) plays a primary role in driving the CLLCJ. The Andes significantly intensify the CLLCJ mainly through interacting with the SEPH and anchoring a baroclinic zone along the Chilean coast. The land–sea differential heating also enhances the CLLCJ by strengthening the coastal baroclinic zone. Based on the location of the SEPH center, the CLLCJ can be separated into two types: a strong-forcing jet, with the SEPH close to the central Chilean coastline; and a weak-forcing jet, with the SEPH centered far away from the coastline. The former is much more intense and associated with stronger interaction between the SEPH and the Andes.

The CLLCJ is slightly supergeostrophic within the marine boundary layer top inversion, where weak easterlies develop, and subgeostrophic in the turbulent boundary layer below, where westerlies are present. The inversion easterlies induce strong subsidence along the coast, which contributes to the formation of the coastal low and the coastal baroclinic zone.

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Qingfang Jiang
,
Ming Liu
, and
James D. Doyle

Abstract

Fine dust particles emitted from Owens (dry) Lake in California documented during the Terrain-Induced Rotor Experiment (T-REX) of 2006 have been examined using surface observations and a mesoscale aerosol model. Air quality stations around Owens (dry) Lake observed dramatic temporal and spatial variations of surface winds and dust particulate concentration. The hourly particulate concentration averaged over a 2-month period exhibits a strong diurnal variation with a primary maximum in the afternoon, coincident with a wind speed maximum. The strongest dust event documented during the 2-month-long period, with maximum hourly and daily average particulate concentrations of 7000 and 1000 μg m−3, respectively, is further examined using output from a high-resolution mesoscale aerosol model simulation. In the morning, with the valley air decoupled from the prevailing westerlies (i.e., cross valley) above the mountaintop, fine particulates are blown off the dry lake bed by moderate up-valley winds and transported along the valley toward northwest. The simulated strong westerlies reach the western part of the valley in the afternoon and more fine dust is scoured off Owens (dry) Lake than in the morning. Assisted by strong turbulence and wave-induced vertical motion in the valley, the westerlies can transport a substantial fraction of the particulate mass across the Inyo Mountains into Death Valley National Park.

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Qingfang Jiang
,
Alex Reinecke
, and
James D. Doyle

Abstract

Recent studies suggest that stratospheric wind biases in global and climate models in the Southern Hemisphere may result from insufficient orographic wave drag, particularly over the Southern Ocean in the latitude belt centered near 60°S. In this study, contributions to the stratospheric wave drag along 60°S from three neighboring orographic wave sources are evaluated using a multiple-layer linear wave model with large-scale wind and stratification profiles derived from the Interim ECMWF Re-Analysis (ERA-Interim) between the years 1991 and 2010. The orographic wave sources include the Patagonian peaks in the southern Andes, the Antarctic Peninsula, and the island of South Georgia. The climatological and dynamical aspects of the wave drag and its dependence on tropospheric winds are investigated.

The results suggest that these orographic wave sources may have significant contributions to the stratospheric drag over the Southern Ocean through meridional spreading of the wave momentum flux aloft associated with three-dimensional wave propagation. Among the three locations considered, the wave drag from the Antarctic Peninsula is substantially larger than that from Patagonia and nearly two orders of magnitude larger than that from South Georgia island. The orographic wave drag is in general proportional to the westerly component of the surface winds and becomes virtually zero when the surface winds have an easterly component, associated with critical level absorption between the tropospheric easterlies and prevailing westerlies in the stratosphere. The derived wave drag exhibits substantial temporal variations, including synoptic-scale, month-to-month, and interannual variations.

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Qingfang Jiang
,
Qing Wang
,
Shouping Wang
, and
Saša Gaberšek

Abstract

The characteristics of a convective internal boundary layer (CIBL) documented offshore during the East Coast phase of the Coupled Air–Sea Processes and Electromagnetic Ducting Research (CASPER-EAST) field campaign has been examined using field observations, a coupled mesoscale model (i.e., Navy’s COAMPS) simulation, and a couple of surface-layer-resolving large-eddy simulations (LESs). The Lagrangian modeling approach has been adopted with the LES domain being advected from a cool and rough land surface to a warmer and smoother sea surface by the mean offshore winds in the CIBL. The surface fluxes from the LES control run are in reasonable agreement with field observations, and the general CIBL characteristics are consistent with previous studies. According to the LESs, in the nearshore adjustment zone (i.e., fetch < 8 km), the low-level winds and surface friction velocity increase rapidly, and the mean wind profile and vertical velocity skewness in the surface layer deviate substantially from the Monin–Obukhov similarity theory (MOST) scaling. Farther offshore, the nondimensional vertical wind shear and scalar gradients and higher-order moments are consistent with the MOST scaling. An elevated turbulent layer is present immediately below the CIBL top, associated with the vertical wind shear across the CIBL top inversion. Episodic shear instability events occur with a time scale between 10 and 30 min, leading to the formation of elevated maxima in turbulence kinetic energy and momentum fluxes. During these events, the turbulence kinetic energy production exceeds the dissipation, suggesting that the CIBL remains in nonequilibrium.

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