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S. Pal, S. F. J. De Wekker, and G. D. Emmitt

Abstract

Spatiotemporal variability in the convective boundary layer height z i over complex terrain is governed by numerous factors such as land surface processes, topography, and synoptic conditions. Observational datasets to evaluate weather forecast models that simulate this variability are sparse. This study aims to investigate the z i spatial variability (along a total leg length of 1800 km) around and over a steep isolated mountain (Granite Mountain) of horizontal and vertical dimensions of 8 and 0.9 km, respectively. An airborne Doppler lidar was deployed on seven flights during the Mountain Terrain Atmospheric Modeling and Observations (MATERHORN) campaign conducted at Dugway Proving Ground (Utah) from 25 September to 24 October 2012. During the afternoon, an east–west z i gradient over the region with z i that was approximately 200 m higher on the eastern side than on the western side of Granite Mountain was observed. This gradient illustrates the impact of two different land surface properties on z i spatial variability, with a sparsely vegetated desert steppe region on the east and a dry, bare lake-bed desert with high subsurface soil moisture to the west of Granite Mountain. Additionally, the z i spatial variability was partly attributed to the impact of Granite Mountain on the downwind z i. Differences in z i were also observed by the radiosonde measurements in the afternoon but not in the morning as the z i variability in morning were modulated by the topography. The high-resolution lidar-derived z i measurements were used to estimate the entrainment zone thickness in the afternoon, with estimates ranging from 100 to 250 m.

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S. F. J. De Wekker, K. S. Godwin, G. D. Emmitt, and S. Greco

Abstract

Three-dimensional winds obtained with an airborne Doppler lidar are used to investigate the spatial structure of topographically driven flows in complex coastal terrain in Southern California. The airborne Doppler lidar collected four hours of data between the surface and 3000 m MSL along a 40-km segment of the Salinas Valley during the afternoon of 12 November 2007. The airborne lidar measurements, obtained at horizontal and vertical resolutions of approximately 1500 and 50 m, respectively, reveal a detailed spatial structure of the atmospheric flows within the valley and their associated aerosol features. Clear skies prevailed on the flight day with northwesterly synoptic flows around 10 m s−1. The data document a shallow sea breeze making a transition into an upvalley flow in the Salinas Valley that accelerates in the upvalley direction. Along with the acceleration of the upvalley wind, the lidar data indicate the presence of enhanced sinking motions. No return flows associated with the sea-breeze or upvalley flows are observed. While synoptic flows are aligned along the valley axis in the upvalley direction, lidar data indicate the presence of a northerly cross-valley flow around the height of the surrounding ridges. This flow intrudes into the valley atmosphere and induces, along with thermally driven slope flows on the sunlit valley sidewall, a cross-valley circulation that causes an asymmetric distribution of the aerosols. This study demonstrates the large potential of airborne Doppler lidar data in describing flows in complex terrain.

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K. S. Godwin, S. F. J. De Wekker, and G. D. Emmitt

Abstract

Airborne Doppler wind lidars are increasingly being used to measure winds in the lower atmosphere at higher spatial resolution than ever before. However, wind retrieval in the range gates closest to the earth’s surface remains problematic. When a laser beam from a nadir-pointing airborne Doppler wind lidar intercepts the ground, the return signal from the ground mixes with the windblown aerosol signal. As a result, winds in a layer adjacent to the surface are often unreliable and removed from wind profiles. This paper describes the problem in detail and discusses a two-step approach to improve near-surface wind retrievals. The two-step approach involves removing high-intensity ground returns and identifying and tracking aerosol radial velocities in the layer affected by ground interference. Using this approach, it is shown that additional range gates closer to the surface can be obtained, thereby further enhancing the potential of airborne Doppler lidar in atmospheric applications. The benefits of the two-step approach are demonstrated using measurements acquired over the Salinas Valley in central California. The additional range gates reveal details of the wind field that were previously not quantified with the original approach, such as a pronounced near-surface wind speed maximum.

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J. C. Doran, S. Abbott, J. Archuleta, X. Bian, J. Chow, R. L. Coulter, S. F. J. de Wekker, S. Edgerton, S. Elliott, A. Fernandez, J. D. Fast, J. M. Hubbe, C. King, D. Langley, J. Leach, J. T. Lee, T. J. Martin, D. Martinez, J. L. Martinez, G. Mercado, V. Mora, M. Mulhearn, J. L. Pena, R. Petty, W. Porch, C. Russell, R. Salas, J. D. Shannon, W. J. Shaw, G. Sosa, L. Tellier, B. Templeman, J. G. Watson, R. White, C. D. Whiteman, and D. Wolfe

A boundary layer field experiment in the Mexico City basin during the period 24 February–22 March 1997 is described. A total of six sites were instrumented. At four of the sites, 915-MHz radar wind profilers were deployed and radiosondes were released five times per day. Two of these sites also had sodars collocated with the profilers. Radiosondes were released twice per day at a fifth site to the south of the basin, and rawinsondes were flown from another location to the northeast of the city three times per day. Mixed layers grew to depths of 2500–3500 m, with a rapid period of growth beginning shortly before noon and lasting for several hours. Significant differences between the mixed-layer temperatures in the basin and outside the basin were observed. Three thermally and topographically driven flow patterns were observed that are consistent with previously hypothesized topographical and thermal forcing mechanisms. Despite these features, the circulation patterns in the basin important for the transport and diffusion of air pollutants show less day-to-day regularity than had been anticipated on the basis of Mexico City's tropical location, high altitude and strong insolation, and topographical setting.

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Jielun Sun, Steven P. Oncley, Sean P. Burns, Britton B. Stephens, Donald H. Lenschow, Teresa Campos, Russell K. Monson, David S. Schimel, William J. Sacks, Stephan F. J. De Wekker, Chun-Ta Lai, Brian Lamb, Dennis Ojima, Patrick Z. Ellsworth, Leonel S. L. Sternberg, Sharon Zhong, Craig Clements, David J. P. Moore, Dean E. Anderson, Andrew S. Watt, Jia Hu, Mark Tschudi, Steven Aulenbach, Eugene Allwine, and Teresa Coons

A significant fraction of Earth consists of mountainous terrain. However, the question of how to monitor the surface–atmosphere carbon exchange over complex terrain has not been fully explored. This article reports on studies by a team of investigators from U.S. universities and research institutes who carried out a multiscale and multidisciplinary field and modeling investigation of the CO2 exchange between ecosystems and the atmosphere and of CO2 transport over complex mountainous terrain in the Rocky Mountain region of Colorado. The goals of the field campaign, which included ground and airborne in situ and remote-sensing measurements, were to characterize unique features of the local CO2 exchange and to find effective methods to measure regional ecosystem–atmosphere CO2 exchange over complex terrain. The modeling effort included atmospheric and ecological numerical modeling and data assimilation to investigate regional CO2 transport and biological processes involved in ecosystem–atmosphere carbon exchange. In this report, we document our approaches, demonstrate some preliminary results, and discuss principal patterns and conclusions concerning ecosystem–atmosphere carbon exchange over complex terrain and its relation to past studies that have considered these processes over much simpler terrain.

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H. J. S. Fernando, E. R. Pardyjak, S. Di Sabatino, F. K. Chow, S. F. J. De Wekker, S. W. Hoch, J. Hacker, J. C. Pace, T. Pratt, Z. Pu, W. J. Steenburgh, C. D. Whiteman, Y. Wang, D. Zajic, B. Balsley, R. Dimitrova, G. D. Emmitt, C. W. Higgins, J. C. R. Hunt, J. C. Knievel, D. Lawrence, Y. Liu, D. F. Nadeau, E. Kit, B. W. Blomquist, P. Conry, R. S. Coppersmith, E. Creegan, M. Felton, A. Grachev, N. Gunawardena, C. Hang, C. M. Hocut, G. Huynh, M. E. Jeglum, D. Jensen, V. Kulandaivelu, M. Lehner, L. S. Leo, D. Liberzon, J. D. Massey, K. McEnerney, S. Pal, T. Price, M. Sghiatti, Z. Silver, M. Thompson, H. Zhang, and T. Zsedrovits

Abstract

Emerging application areas such as air pollution in megacities, wind energy, urban security, and operation of unmanned aerial vehicles have intensified scientific and societal interest in mountain meteorology. To address scientific needs and help improve the prediction of mountain weather, the U.S. Department of Defense has funded a research effort—the Mountain Terrain Atmospheric Modeling and Observations (MATERHORN) Program—that draws the expertise of a multidisciplinary, multi-institutional, and multinational group of researchers. The program has four principal thrusts, encompassing modeling, experimental, technology, and parameterization components, directed at diagnosing model deficiencies and critical knowledge gaps, conducting experimental studies, and developing tools for model improvements. The access to the Granite Mountain Atmospheric Sciences Testbed of the U.S. Army Dugway Proving Ground, as well as to a suite of conventional and novel high-end airborne and surface measurement platforms, has provided an unprecedented opportunity to investigate phenomena of time scales from a few seconds to a few days, covering spatial extents of tens of kilometers down to millimeters. This article provides an overview of the MATERHORN and a glimpse at its initial findings. Orographic forcing creates a multitude of time-dependent submesoscale phenomena that contribute to the variability of mountain weather at mesoscale. The nexus of predictions by mesoscale model ensembles and observations are described, identifying opportunities for further improvements in mountain weather forecasting.

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A. Gannet Hallar, Steven S. Brown, Erik Crosman, Kelley C. Barsanti, Christopher D. Cappa, Ian Faloona, Jerome Fast, Heather A. Holmes, John Horel, John Lin, Ann Middlebrook, Logan Mitchell, Jennifer Murphy, Caroline C. Womack, Viney Aneja, Munkhbayar Baasandorj, Roya Bahreini, Robert Banta, Casey Bray, Alan Brewer, Dana Caulton, Joost de Gouw, Stephan F.J. De Wekker, Delphine K. Farmer, Cassandra J. Gaston, Sebastian Hoch, Francesca Hopkins, Nakul N. Karle, James T. Kelly, Kerry Kelly, Neil Lareau, Keding Lu, Roy L. Mauldin III, Derek V. Mallia, Randal Martin, Daniel L. Mendoza, Holly J. Oldroyd, Yelena Pichugina, Kerri A. Pratt, Pablo E. Saide, Philip J. Silva, William Simpson, Britton B. Stephens, Jochen Stutz, and Amy Sullivan

Abstract

Wintertime episodes of high aerosol concentrations occur frequently in urban and agricultural basins and valleys worldwide. These episodes often arise following development of persistent cold-air pools (PCAPs) that limit mixing and modify chemistry. While field campaigns targeting either basin meteorology or wintertime pollution chemistry have been conducted, coupling between interconnected chemical and meteorological processes remains an insufficiently studied research area. Gaps in understanding the coupled chemical-meteorological interactions that drive high pollution events make identification of the most effective air-basin specific emission control strategies challenging. To address this, a September 2019 workshop occurred with the goal of planning a future research campaign to investigate air quality in Western U.S. basins. Approximately 120 people participated, representing 50 institutions and 5 countries. Workshop participants outlined the rationale and design for a comprehensive wintertime study that would couple atmospheric chemistry and boundary-layer and complex-terrain meteorology within western U.S. basins. Participants concluded the study should focus on two regions with contrasting aerosol chemistry: three populated valleys within Utah (Salt Lake, Utah, and Cache Valleys) and the San Joaquin Valley in California. This paper describes the scientific rationale for a campaign that will acquire chemical and meteorological datasets using airborne platforms with extensive range, coupled to surface-based measurements focusing on sampling within the near-surface boundary layer, and transport and mixing processes within this layer, with high vertical resolution at a number of representative sites. No prior wintertime basin-focused campaign has provided the breadth of observations necessary to characterize the meteorological-chemical linkages outlined here, nor to validate complex processes within coupled atmosphere-chemistry models.

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