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Richard L. Coulter

Abstract

Temperature profile, lidar and sodar results for determination of mixing-layer heights during October 1977 are compared. While the overall agreement was good, systematic differences do appear, particularly in early morning and late afternoon between lidar and sodar results, when the lidar values are consistently higher than the sodar. Temperature profile values are consistently lower than the other two methods. These differences are due to the slightly different behavior of the sensed variables near the capping inversion. Aerosols and particulates mix to larger heights than the top of the adiabatic temperature profile, while temperature fluctuations exhibit an increase at a height above the top of the adiabatic temperature profile but below the maximum height of particulate mixing.

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Richard L. Coulter and Paul Gudiksen

Abstract

The atmospheric katabatic flow in the foothills of the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains has been monitored by a network of towers and sodars for several years as part of the ASCOT program. The dependence of the outflow from Coal Creek Canyon on surface cooling and channeling by winds above the canyon is explored by using three years of data from a portion of the network. The depth of the drainage flow and the height of the wind speed maximum were found to be largest at external wind speeds near 3 m s−1. For lighter winds aloft, the drainage depth, the height of the jet, and the drainage wind speed depend both on external wind speed and on the strength of the surface cooling. The magnitude of the near-surface temperature differences was also found to decrease with increasing surface cooling, possibly because of increasing turbulence caused by winds interacting with surface topography.

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William M. Porch, William E. Clements, and Richard L. Coulter

Abstract

This paper describes a regular oscillation observed in nighttime drainage airflow in a valley under relatively light upper-level wind conditions. The period of these oscillations is about 20 minutes with at least one harmonic at about 10 minutes. A strong coherence between tributary flow and main valley fluctuations was observed, with the phase of the tributary flow leading the valley oscillation; this indicates the importance of tributaries as major contributors to the dynamics of cold air flow in valleys.

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Jie Song, Ke Liao, Richard L. Coulter, and Barry M. Lesht

Abstract

A unique dataset obtained with combinations of minisodars and 915-MHz wind profilers at the Atmospheric Boundary Layer Experiments (ABLE) facility in Kansas was used to examine the detailed characteristics of the nocturnal low-level jet (LLJ). In contrast to instruments used in earlier studies, the ABLE instruments provide hourly, high-resolution vertical profiles of wind velocity from just above the surface to approximately 2 km above ground level (AGL). Furthermore, the 6-yr span of the dataset allowed the examination of interannual variability in jet properties with improved statistical reliability. It was found that LLJs occurred during 63% of the nighttime periods sampled. Although most of the observed jets were southerly, a substantial fraction (28%) was northerly. Wind maxima occurred most frequently at 200–400 m AGL, though some jets were found as low as 50 m, and the strongest jets tended to occur above 300 m. Comparison of LLJ heights at three locations within the ABLE domain and at one location outside the domain suggests that the jet is equipotential rather than terrain following. The occurrence of southerly LLJ varied annually in a way that suggests a connection between the tendency for jet formation and the large-scale circulation patterns associated with El Niño and La Niña, as well as with the Pacific decadal oscillation. Frequent and strong southerly jets that transport moisture downstream do not necessarily lead to more precipitation locally, however.

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Richard L. Coulter, Timothy J. Martin, and William M. Porch

Abstract

The characteristics of tributary drainage flow in stable, nocturnal conditions in three closely located tributaries are compared. The orientation of the tributaries with respect to Kimball Creek, into which they drain, appears to be a controlling factor in the tributary flow. In particular, oscillations in the drainage flow are found to be weakest and drainage mass per unit area greatest in the tributary most closely aligned with the main canyon.

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William M. Porch, Richard B. Fritz, Richard L. Coulter, and Paul H. Gudiksen

Abstract

Field experiments measuring nocturnal tributary flows have shown complex internal structure. Variations in the flow range from short-term (8–16 min) oscillations (related to tributary/valley flow interactions) to long-term flow changes throughout the night (related to upper ridge slope and tributary sidewall cooling rate changes). The mean vertical structure in the tributary flow shows a three layer structure. Outflow winds are observed near the surface and in an elevated jet up to several hundred meters height. A flow minimum or counterflow exists at about the height of the drainage flow maximum in the main valley. Comparisons of flow volumes and variations from a single large tributary show that 5%–15% of the nocturnal flow in the main valley may be contributed through one tributary. This implies that tributaries may dominate main valley sidewall and midvalley subsidence contributions to valley drainage flows.

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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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Margaret A. LeMone, Fei Chen, Joseph G. Alfieri, Mukul Tewari, Bart Geerts, Qun Miao, Robert L. Grossman, and Richard L. Coulter

Abstract

Analyses of daytime fair-weather aircraft and surface-flux tower data from the May–June 2002 International H2O Project (IHOP_2002) and the April–May 1997 Cooperative Atmosphere Surface Exchange Study (CASES-97) are used to document the role of vegetation, soil moisture, and terrain in determining the horizontal variability of latent heat LE and sensible heat H along a 46-km flight track in southeast Kansas. Combining the two field experiments clearly reveals the strong influence of vegetation cover, with H maxima over sparse/dormant vegetation, and H minima over green vegetation; and, to a lesser extent, LE maxima over green vegetation, and LE minima over sparse/dormant vegetation. If the small number of cases is producing the correct trend, other effects of vegetation and the impact of soil moisture emerge through examining the slope ΔxyLE/Δxy H for the best-fit straight line for plots of time-averaged LE as a function of time-averaged H over the area. Based on the surface energy balance, H + LE = R netG sfc, where R net is the net radiation and G sfc is the flux into the soil; R netG sfc ∼ constant over the area implies an approximately −1 slope. Right after rainfall, H and LE vary too little horizontally to define a slope. After sufficient drying to produce enough horizontal variation to define a slope, a steep (∼−2) slope emerges. The slope becomes shallower and better defined with time as H and LE horizontal variability increases. Similarly, the slope becomes more negative with moister soils. In addition, the slope can change with time of day due to phase differences in H and LE. These trends are based on land surface model (LSM) runs and observations collected under nearly clear skies; the vegetation is unstressed for the days examined. LSM runs suggest terrain may also play a role, but observational support is weak.

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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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Larry K. Berg, Carl M. Berkowitz, John A. Ogren, Chris A. Hostetler, Richard A. Ferrare, Manvendra K. Dubey, Elisabeth Andrews, Richard L. Coulter, Johnathan W. Hair, John M. Hubbe, Yin-Nan Lee, Claudio Mazzoleni, Jason Olfert, and Stephen R. Springston

The primary goal of the Cumulus Humilis Aerosol Processing Study (CHAPS) was to characterize and contrast freshly emitted aerosols below, within, and above fields of cumuli, and to study changes to the cloud microphysical structure within these same cloud fields in the vicinity of Oklahoma City during June 2007. CHAPS is one of few studies that have had an aerosol mass spectrometer (AMS) sampling downstream of a counterflow virtual impactor (CVI) inlet on an aircraft, allowing the examination of the chemical composition of activated aerosols within the cumuli. The results from CHAPS provide insights into changes in the aerosol chemical and optical properties as aerosols move through shallow cumuli downwind of a moderately sized city. Three instrument platforms were employed during CHAPS, including the U.S. Department of Energy Gulfstream-1 aircraft, which was equipped for in situ sampling of aerosol optical and chemical properties; the NASA Langley King Air B200, which carried the downward-looking NASA Langley High Spectral Resolution Lidar (HSRL) to measure profiles of aerosol backscatter, extinction, and depolarization between the King Air and the surface; and a surface site equipped for continuous in situ measurements of aerosol optical properties, profiles of aerosol backscatter, and meteorological conditions, including total sky cover and thermodynamic profiles of the atmosphere. In spite of record precipitation over central Oklahoma, a total of 8 research flights were made by the G-l and 18 by the B200, including special satellite verification flights timed to coincide with NASA satellite A-Train overpasses.

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