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Marius O. Jonassen, Haraldur Ólafsson, Hálfdán Ágústsson, Ólafur Rögnvaldsson, and Joachim Reuder

Abstract

In this study, it is demonstrated how temperature, humidity, and wind profile data from the lower troposphere obtained with a lightweight unmanned aerial system (UAS) can be used to improve high-resolution numerical weather simulations by four-dimensional data assimilation (FDDA). The combined UAS and FDDA system is applied to two case studies of northeasterly flow situations in southwest Iceland from the international Moso field campaign on 19 and 20 July 2009. Both situations were characterized by high diurnal boundary layer temperature variation leading to thermally driven flow, predominantly in the form of sea-breeze circulation along the coast. The data assimilation leads to an improvement in the simulation of the horizontal and vertical extension of the sea breeze as well as of the local background flow. Erroneously simulated fog over the Reykjanes peninsula on 19 July, which leads to a local temperature underestimation of 8 K, is also corrected by the data assimilation. Sensitivity experiments show that both the assimilation of wind data and temperature and humidity data are important for the assimilation results. UAS represents a novel instrument platform with a large potential within the atmospheric sciences. The presented method of using UAS data for assimilation into high-resolution numerical weather simulations is likely to have a wide range of future applications such as wind energy and improvements of targeted weather forecasts for search and rescue missions.

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Stephan T. Kral, Joachim Reuder, Timo Vihma, Irene Suomi, Kristine F. Haualand, Gabin H. Urbancic, Brian R. Greene, Gert-Jan Steeneveld, Torge Lorenz, Björn Maronga, Marius O. Jonassen, Hada Ajosenpää, Line Båserud, Phillip B. Chilson, Albert A. M. Holtslag, Alastair D. Jenkins, Rostislav Kouznetsov, Stephanie Mayer, Elizabeth A. Pillar-Little, Alexander Rautenberg, Johannes Schwenkel, Andrew W. Seidl, and Burkhard Wrenger

Abstract

The Innovative Strategies for Observations in the Arctic Atmospheric Boundary Layer Program (ISOBAR) is a research project investigating stable atmospheric boundary layer (SBL) processes, whose representation still poses significant challenges in state-of-the-art numerical weather prediction (NWP) models. In ISOBAR ground-based flux and profile observations are combined with boundary layer remote sensing methods and the extensive usage of different unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). During February 2017 and 2018 we carried out two major field campaigns over the sea ice of the northern Baltic Sea, close to the Finnish island of Hailuoto at 65°N. In total 14 intensive observational periods (IOPs) resulted in extensive SBL datasets with unprecedented spatiotemporal resolution, which will form the basis for various numerical modeling experiments. First results from the campaigns indicate numerous very stable boundary layer (VSBL) cases, characterized by strong stratification, weak winds, and clear skies, and give detailed insight in the temporal evolution and vertical structure of the entire SBL. The SBL is subject to rapid changes in its vertical structure, responding to a variety of different processes. In particular, we study cases involving a shear instability associated with a low-level jet, a rapid strong cooling event observed a few meters above ground, and a strong wave-breaking event that triggers intensive near-surface turbulence. Furthermore, we use observations from one IOP to validate three different atmospheric models. The unique finescale observations resulting from the ISOBAR observational approach will aid future research activities, focusing on a better understanding of the SBL and its implementation in numerical models.

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