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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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