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Shiguang Miao, Fei Chen, Margaret A. LeMone, Mukul Tewari, Qingchun Li, and Yingchun Wang

Abstract

In this paper, the characteristics of urban heat island (UHI) and boundary layer structures in the Beijing area, China, are analyzed using conventional and Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) observations. The Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model coupled with a single-layer urban canopy model (UCM) is used to simulate these urban weather features for comparison with observations. WRF is also used to test the sensitivity of model simulations to different urban land use scenarios and urban building structures to investigate the impacts of urbanization on surface weather and boundary layer structures. Results show that the coupled WRF/Noah/UCM modeling system seems to be able to reproduce the following observed features reasonably well: 1) the diurnal variation of UHI intensity; 2) the spatial distribution of UHI in Beijing; 3) the diurnal variation of wind speed and direction, and interactions between mountain–valley circulations and UHI; 4) small-scale boundary layer convective rolls and cells; and 5) the nocturnal boundary layer lower-level jet. The statistical analyses reveal that urban canopy variables (e.g., temperature, wind speed) from WRF/Noah/UCM compare better with surface observations than the conventional variables (e.g., 2-m temperature, 10-m wind speed). Both observations and the model show that the airflow over Beijing is dominated by mountain–valley flows that are modified by urban–rural circulations. Sensitivity tests imply that the presence or absence of urban surfaces significantly impacts the formation of horizontal convective rolls (HCRs), and the details in urban structures seem to have less pronounced but not negligible effects on HCRs.

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Diane Strassberg, Margaret A. LeMone, Thomas T. Warner, and Joseph G. Alfieri

Abstract

Comparisons of 10-m above ground level (AGL) wind speeds from numerical weather prediction (NWP) models to point observations consistently show that model daytime wind speeds are slow compared to observations, even after improving model physics and going to smaller grid spacing. Previous authors have attributed the discrepancy to differences between the areas represented by model and observations, and the small surface roughness upstream of wind vanes compared with the corresponding model grid value. Using daytime fair-weather data from the May–June 2002 International H2O Experiment (IHOP_2002), the effect of wind-vane exposure is explored by comparing observed 10-m winds from nine surface-flux towers in well-exposed locations to modeled 10-m winds found by applying Monin–Obukhov (MO) similarity for unstable conditions to flight-track-averaged data collected by the University of Wyoming King Air over flat to rolling terrain with occasional trees and buildings. In the calculations, King Air winds and fluxes are supplemented with thermodynamic means and fluxes from the surface-flux towers. After exercising considerable care in characterizing and reducing biases in aircraft winds and fluxes, the authors found that MO-based surface winds averaged 0.5–0.7 ± 0.2 m s−1 less than those measured—about the same as the smaller reported discrepancies between NWP models and observed winds.

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Teddy R. Holt, Dev Niyogi, Fei Chen, Kevin Manning, Margaret A. LeMone, and Aneela Qureshi

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Numerical simulations are conducted using the Coupled Ocean/Atmosphere Mesoscale Prediction System (COAMPS) to investigate the impact of land–vegetation processes on the prediction of mesoscale convection observed on 24–25 May 2002 during the International H2O Project (IHOP_2002). The control COAMPS configuration uses the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model version of the Noah land surface model (LSM) initialized using a high-resolution land surface data assimilation system (HRLDAS). Physically consistent surface fields are ensured by an 18-month spinup time for HRLDAS, and physically consistent mesoscale fields are ensured by a 2-day data assimilation spinup for COAMPS. Sensitivity simulations are performed to assess the impact of land–vegetative processes by 1) replacing the Noah LSM with a simple slab soil model (SLAB), 2) adding a photosynthesis, canopy resistance/transpiration scheme [the gas exchange/photosynthesis-based evapotranspiration model (GEM)] to the Noah LSM, and 3) replacing the HRLDAS soil moisture with the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) 40-km Eta Data Assimilation (EDAS) operational soil fields.

CONTROL, EDAS, and GEM develop convection along the dryline and frontal boundaries 2–3 h after observed, with synoptic-scale forcing determining the location and timing. SLAB convection along the boundaries is further delayed, indicating that detailed surface parameterization is necessary for a realistic model forecast. EDAS soils are generally drier and warmer than HRLDAS, resulting in more extensive development of convection along the dryline than for CONTROL. The inclusion of photosynthesis-based evapotranspiration (GEM) improves predictive skill for both air temperature and moisture. Biases in soil moisture and temperature (as well as air temperature and moisture during the prefrontal period) are larger for EDAS than HRLDAS, indicating land–vegetative processes in EDAS are forced by anomalously warmer and drier conditions than observed. Of the four simulations, the errors in SLAB predictions of these quantities are generally the largest.

By adding a sophisticated transpiration model, the atmospheric model is able to better respond to the more detailed representation of soil moisture and temperature. The sensitivity of the synoptically forced convection to soil and vegetative processes including transpiration indicates that detailed representation of land surface processes should be included in weather forecasting models, particularly for severe storm forecasting where local-scale information is important.

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Monica Górska, Jordi Vilà-Guerau de Arellano, Margaret A. LeMone, and Chiel C. van Heerwaarden

Abstract

The effects of the horizontal variability of surface properties on the turbulent fluxes of virtual potential temperature, moisture, and carbon dioxide are investigated by combining aircraft observations with large-eddy simulations (LESs). Daytime fair-weather aircraft measurements from the 2002 International H2O Project’s 45-km Eastern Track over mixed grassland and winter wheat in southeast Kansas reveal that the western part of the atmospheric boundary layer was warmer and drier than the eastern part, with higher values of carbon dioxide to the east. The temperature and specific humidity patterns are consistent with the pattern of surface fluxes produced by the High-Resolution Land Data Assimilation System. However, the observed turbulent fluxes of virtual potential temperature, moisture, and carbon dioxide, computed as a function of longitude along the flight track, do not show a clear east–west trend. Rather, the fluxes at 70 m above ground level related better to the surface variability quantified in terms of the normalized differential vegetation index (NDVI), with strong correlation between carbon dioxide fluxes and NDVI.

A first attempt is made to estimate the ratios of the flux at the entrainment zone to the surface flux (entrainment ratios) as a function of longitude. The entrainment ratios averaged from these observations (β θυ ≈ 0.10, βq ≈ −2.4, and β CO2 ≈ −0.58) are similar to the values found from the homogeneous LES experiment with initial and boundary conditions similar to observations.

To understand how surface flux heterogeneity influences turbulent fluxes higher up, a heterogeneous LES experiment is performed in a domain with higher sensible and lower latent heat fluxes in the western half compared to the eastern half. In contrast to the aircraft measurements, the LES turbulent fluxes show a difference in magnitude between the eastern and western halves at 70 and 700 m above ground level. Possible reasons for these differences between results from LES and aircraft measurements are discussed.

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Jennifer L. Davison, Robert M. Rauber, Larry Di Girolamo, and Margaret A. LeMone

Abstract

This paper investigates wintertime tropical marine boundary layer (TMBL) statistical characteristics over the western North Atlantic using the complete set of island-launched soundings from the Rain in Cumulus over the Ocean (RICO) experiment. The soundings are subdivided into undisturbed and disturbed classifications using two discriminators: 1) dates chosen by Global Energy and Water Cycle Experiment (GEWEX) Cloud System Studies (GCSS) investigators to construct the mean RICO sounding and 2) daily average rain rates.

A wide range of relative humidity (RH) values was observed between the surface and 8.0 km. At 2.0 km, half the RH values were within 56%–89%; at 4.0 km, half were within 13%–61%. The rain-rate method of separating disturbed and undisturbed soundings appears more meaningful than the GCSS method. The median RH for disturbed conditions using the rain-rate method showed moister conditions from the surface to 8.0 km, with maximum RH differences of 30%–40%. Moist air generally extended higher on disturbed than undisturbed days.

Based on equivalent potential temperature, wind direction, and RH analyses, the most common altitude marking the TMBL top was about 4.0 km. Temperature inversions (over both 50- and 350-m intervals) were observed at every altitude above 1.2 km; there were no dominant inversion heights and most of the inversions were weak. Wind direction analyses indicated that winds within the TMBL originated from more tropical latitudes on disturbed days.

The analyses herein suggest that the RICO profile used to initialize many model simulations of this environment represents only a small subset of the broad range of possible conditions characterizing the wintertime trades.

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Jennifer L. Davison, Robert M. Rauber, Larry Di Girolamo, and Margaret A. LeMone

Abstract

This paper examines the structure and variability of the moisture field in the tropical marine boundary layer (TMBL) as defined by Bragg scattering layers (BSLs) observed with S-band radar. Typically, four to five BSLs were present in the TMBL, including the transition layer at the top of the surface-based mixed layer. The transition-layer depth (~350 m) exhibited a weak diurnal cycle because of changes in the mixed-layer depth. BSLs and the “clear” layers between them each had a median thickness of about 350 m and a lifetime over the radar of 8.4 h, with about 25% having lifetimes longer than 20 h. More (fewer) BSLs were present when surface winds had a more southerly (northerly) component. Both BSLs and clear layers increased in depth with increasing rain rates, with the rainiest days producing layers that were about 100 m thicker than those on the driest days. The analyses imply that the relative humidity (RH) field in the TMBL exhibits layering on scales observable by radar. Satellite and wind profiler measurements show that the layered RH structure is related, at least in part, to detraining cloudy air.

Based on analyses in this series of papers, a revised conceptual model of the TMBL is presented that emphasizes moisture variability and incorporates multiple moist and dry layers and a higher TMBL top. The model is supported by comparing BSL tops with satellite-derived cloud tops. This comparison suggests that the layered RH structure is related, in part, to cloud detrainment at preferred altitudes within the TMBL. The potential ramifications of this change in TMBL conceptualization on modeling of the TMBL are discussed.

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Margaret A. LeMone, Mukul Tewari, Fei Chen, Joseph G. Alfieri, and Dev Niyogi

Abstract

Sources of differences between observations and simulations for a case study using the Noah land surface model–based High-Resolution Land Data Assimilation System (HRLDAS) are examined for sensible and latent heat fluxes H and LE, respectively; surface temperature Ts; and vertical temperature difference T 0Ts, where T 0 is at 2 m. The observational data were collected on 29 May 2002, using the University of Wyoming King Air and four surface towers placed along a sparsely vegetated 60-km north–south flight track in the Oklahoma Panhandle. This day had nearly clear skies and a strong north–south soil-moisture gradient, with wet soils and widespread puddles at the south end of the track and drier soils to the north. Relative amplitudes of H and LE horizontal variation were estimated by taking the slope of the least squares best-fit straight line ΔLE/ΔH on plots of time-averaged LE as a function of time-averaged H for values along the track. It is argued that observed H and LE values departing significantly from their slope line are not associated with surface processes and, hence, need not be replicated by HRLDAS. Reasonable agreement between HRLDAS results and observed data was found only after adjusting the coefficient C in the Zilitinkevich equation relating the roughness lengths for momentum and heat in HRLDAS from its default value of 0.1 to a new value of 0.5. Using C = 0.1 and adjusting soil moisture to match the observed near-surface values increased horizontal variability in the right sense, raising LE and lowering H over the moist south end. However, both the magnitude of H and the amplitude of its horizontal variability relative to LE remained too large; adjustment of the green vegetation fraction had only a minor effect. With C = 0.5, model-input green vegetation fraction, and our best-estimate soil moisture, H, LE, ΔLE/ΔH, and T 0Ts, were all close to observed values. The remaining inconsistency between model and observations—too high a value of H and too low a value of LE over the wet southern end of the track—could be due to HRLDAS ignoring the effect of open water. Neglecting the effect of moist soils on the albedo could also have contributed.

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David N. Yates, Fei Chen, Margaret A. LeMone, Russell Qualls, Steven P. Oncley, Robert L. Grossman, and Edward A. Brandes

Abstract

A multiscale dataset that includes atmospheric, surface, and subsurface observations obtained from an observation network covering a region that has a scale order comparable to mesoscale and general circulation models is described and analyzed. The dataset is half-hourly time series of forcing and flux response data developed from the one-month Cooperative Atmosphere–Surface Exchange Study (CASES-97) experiment, located in the Walnut Watershed near Wichita, Kansas. The horizontal complexity of this dataset was analyzed by looking at the sensible and latent heat flux response of station data from the three main land surface types of winter wheat, grass/pastureland, and bare soil/sparse vegetation. The variability in the heat flux response at and among the different sites points to the need for a spatially distributed, time-varying atmospheric-forcing dataset for use in land surface modeling experiments. Such a dataset at horizontal spacings of 1, 5, and 10 km was developed from the station data and other remotely sensed platforms, and its spatial heterogeneity was analyzed.

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Margaret A. LeMone, Fei Chen, Mukul Tewari, Jimy Dudhia, Bart Geerts, Qun Miao, Richard L. Coulter, and Robert L. Grossman

Abstract

Fair-weather data along the May–June 2002 International H2O Project (IHOP_2002) eastern track and the nearby Argonne Boundary Layer Experiments (ABLE) facility in southeast Kansas are compared to numerical simulations to gain insight into how the surface influences convective boundary layer (CBL) structure, and to evaluate the success of the modeling system in replicating the observed behavior. Simulations are conducted for 4 days, using the Advanced Research version of the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model coupled to the Noah land surface model (LSM), initialized using the High-Resolution Land Data Assimilation System (HRLDAS). Because the observations focus on phenomena less than 60 km in scale, the model is run with 1-km grid spacing, offering a critical look at high-resolution model behavior in an environment uncomplicated by precipitation.

The model replicates the type of CBL structure on scales from a few kilometers to ∼100 km, but some features at the kilometer scales depend on the grid spacing. Mesoscale (tens of kilometers) circulations were clearly evident on 2 of the 4 days (30 May and 20 June), clearly not evident on 1 day (22 June), with the situation for the fourth day (17 June) ambiguous. Both observed and modeled surface-heterogeneity-generated mesoscale circulations are evident for 30 May. On the other hand, 20 June satellite images show north-northwest–south-southeast cloud streets (rolls) modulated longitudinally, presumably by tropospheric gravity waves oriented normal to the roll axis, creating northeast–southwest ridges and valleys spaced 50–100 km apart. Modeled cloud streets showed similar longitudinal modulation, with the associated two-dimensional structure having maximum amplitude above the CBL and no relationship to the CBL temperature distribution; although there were patches of mesoscale vertical velocity correlated with CBL temperature. On 22 June, convective rolls were the dominant structure in both model and observations.

For the 3 days for which satellite images show cloud streets, WRF produces rolls with the right orientation and wavelength, which grows with CBL depth. Modeled roll structures appeared for the range of CBL depth to Obukhov length ratios (−zi/L) associated with rolls. However, sensitivity tests show that the roll wavelength is also related to the grid spacing, and the modeled convection becomes more cellular with smaller grid spacing.

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Margaret A. LeMone, Fei Chen, Mukul Tewari, Jimy Dudhia, Bart Geerts, Qun Miao, Richard L. Coulter, and Robert L. Grossman

Abstract

Fair-weather data from the May–June 2002 International H2O Project (IHOP_2002) 46-km eastern flight track in southeast Kansas are compared to simulations using the advanced research version of the Weather Research and Forecasting model coupled to the Noah land surface model (LSM), to gain insight into how the surface influences convective boundary layer (CBL) fluxes and structure, and to evaluate the success of the modeling system in representing CBL structure and evolution. This offers a unique look at the capability of the model on scales the length of the flight track (46 km) and smaller under relatively uncomplicated meteorological conditions.

It is found that the modeled sensible heat flux H is significantly larger than observed, while the latent heat flux (LE) is much closer to observations. The slope of the best-fit line ΔLE/ΔH to a plot of LE as a function of H, an indicator of horizontal variation in available energy H + LE, for the data along the flight track, was shallower than observed. In a previous study of the IHOP_2002 western track, similar results were explained by too small a value of the parameter C in the Zilitinkevich equation used in the Noah LSM to compute the roughness length for heat and moisture flux from the roughness length for momentum, which is supplied in an input table; evidence is presented that this is true for the eastern track as well. The horizontal variability in modeled fluxes follows the soil moisture pattern rather than vegetation type, as is observed; because the input land use map does not capture the observed variation in vegetation. The observed westward rise in CBL depth is successfully modeled for 3 of the 4 days, but the actual depths are too high, largely because modeled H is too high. The model reproduces the timing of observed cumulus cloudiness for 3 of the 4 days.

Modeled clouds lead to departures from the typical clear-sky straight line relating surface H to LE for a given model time, making them easy to detect. With spatial filtering, a straight slope line can be recovered. Similarly, larger filter lengths are needed to produce a stable slope for observed fluxes when there are clouds than for clear skies.

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