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Shane D. Mayor

Abstract

Seven atmospheric density current fronts are identified in sequences of ground-based, scanning aerosol backscatter lidar images and in situ micrometeorological time series data that were collected simultaneously and nearly continuously between 15 March and 11 June of 2007 in Dixon, California. The fronts, observed on different days, had the following features in common: 1) an increase in aerosol backscatter intensity, 2) a decrease in air temperature, 3) an increase in water vapor mixing ratio, 4) movement toward the north, 5) airflow from the south in the denser air mass, and 6) occurrence within a 3.5-h time span in the afternoon. The observations support the hypothesis that the fronts are the leading edges of shallow marine air masses advancing northward from the Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta. The observations are used to test an empirical relationship between front speed, airmass density difference, depth of the dense air mass, and speed of the opposing flow. Prominent features of the fronts such as lobe and cleft structure, billows, and nose and head structure are described. Time-lapse animations of the lidar scans are available in the online version of this article.

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Shane D. Mayor
and
Edwin W. Eloranta

Abstract

Spatially resolved wind fields are derived by cross correlation of aerosol backscatter data from horizontal and vertical scans of the University of Wisconsin volume imaging lidar during the 1997/98 Lake-Induced Convection Experiment. Data from three cases are analyzed. The first two cases occurred on 10 and 13 January 1998 during cold-air outbreaks. Horizontal scans at 5 m above the lake reveal cellular structure of the steam fog. Vector winds are derived with 250-m spatial resolution over 60 and 36 km2 areas. These wind fields show acceleration and veering of offshore flow in the convective internal boundary layer along the upwind edge of Lake Michigan. The wind fields are used to compute divergence and vorticity. Effects of shoreline shape and topography are evident in the data. Horizontal wind speeds derived from vertical scans show the effects of convection on the vertical distribution of momentum. In the third case, 21 December 1997, a well-defined, shallow density current flowing offshore at ≈1 m s−1 is observed in the presence of larger-scale (3–4 m s−1) onshore flow. Winds on both sides of the land-breeze boundary as well as the three-dimensional structure of the event were recorded and analyzed.

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Scott M. Spuler
and
Shane D. Mayor

Abstract

A field-deployable scanning direct-detection elastic backscatter lidar system that is eye safe at all ranges is presented. The first two-dimensional spatial images created by scanning this new 1.54-μm wavelength system, and time-lapse animations (viewable in the online version of this article) of those spatial images, are shown. The system has a useful range from approximately 500 m to several kilometers or more (depending on weather conditions) with 3-m range resolution. The time-lapse animations reveal the advection of the macroscopic structure of aerosol scattering due to atmospheric motion. The images and animations are ideal for the location of sources of pollutants and their dispersal and the elucidation of structure in the cloud-free atmosphere. Most importantly, the data presented were collected in a populated area, which would have not been possible with a non-eye-safe system.

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Shane D. Mayor
,
Gregory J. Tripoli
, and
Edwin W. Eloranta

Abstract

The authors apply data analysis techniques that demonstrate the power of using volume imaging lidar observations to evaluate several aspects of large-eddy simulations (LESs). They present observations and simulations of an intense and spatially evolving convective boundary layer on 13 January 1998 during the Lake-Induced Convection Experiment (Lake-ICE). To enable comparison of observed and simulated eddy structure, aerosol scattering was estimated from LES output of relative humidity, a passive tracer, and liquid water. Spatial and temporal correlation functions of aerosol structure from horizontal planes reveal the mean and turbulent convective structure. The correlation functions of the observed and simulated aerosol backscatter are presented as a function of altitude and offshore distance. Best-fit ellipses to the closed contours encircling the origin of the correlation functions are used to obtain the mean ellipticity and orientation of the structures. The authors demonstrate that these two parameters are not sensitive to minor changes in the functional relationship between humidity and optical scattering. The lidar-derived mean wind field is used as a reference for evaluating the LES mean flow.

The ellipses from lidar data indicate that structures near the surface tend to be aligned with the mean wind direction, while in the entrainment zone they are aligned perpendicular to the mean wind direction. In the middle of the mixed layer, convective plumes tended to be circular and, therefore, had no preferred orientation at small lags. At longer lags, however, the correlation functions from the middle of the mixed layer show that the observed convective plumes were organized into linear bands oriented perpendicular to the mean wind direction. The perpendicular bands suggest the important role of gravity waves in organizing convective structures. The study shows that the model generates reasonable coherent structures (open cells) where the LES technique is expected to perform poorly (near the surface) and fails to capture the wind-perpendicular organization of closed cells in the middle of the mixed layer where the LES technique is expected to be robust. The authors attribute this failure to the boundary conditions that limited the growth of waves above the mixed layer.

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Stephan F. J. De Wekker
and
Shane D. Mayor

Abstract

First results are presented from the deployment of the NCAR Raman-Shifted Eye-Safe Aerosol Lidar (REAL) in the Owens Valley of California during the Terrain-Induced Rotor Experiment (T-REX) in March and April 2006. REAL operated in range–height indicator (RHI) and plan position indicator (PPI) scanning modes to observe the vertical and horizontal structures of the aerosol and cloud distribution in a broad valley in the lee of a tall mountain range. The scans produce two-dimensional cross sections that when animated produce time-lapse visualizations of the microscale and mesoscale atmospheric structures and dynamics. The 2-month dataset includes a wide variety of interesting atmospheric phenomena. When the synoptic-scale flow is strong and westerly, the lidar data reveal mountain-induced waves, hydraulic jumps, and rotorlike circulations that lift aerosols to altitudes of more than 2 km above the valley. Shear instabilities occasionally leading to breaking waves were observed in cloud and aerosol layers under high wind conditions. In quiescent conditions, the data show multiple aerosol layers, upslope flows, and drainage flows interacting with valley flows. The results demonstrate that a rapidly scanning, eye-safe, ground-based aerosol lidar can be used to observe important features of clear-air atmospheric flows and can contribute to an improved understanding of mountain-induced meteorological phenomena. The research community is encouraged to use the dataset in support of their observational analysis and modeling efforts.

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Masaki Hamada
,
Pierre Dérian
,
Christopher F. Mauzey
, and
Shane D. Mayor

Abstract

Numerical and field experiments were conducted to test an optimized cross-correlation algorithm (CCA) for the remote sensing of two-component wind vectors from horizontally scanning elastic backscatter lidar data. Each vector is the result of applying the algorithm to a square and contiguous subset of pixels (an interrogation window) in the lidar scan area. Synthetic aerosol distributions and flow fields were used to investigate the accuracy and precision of the technique. Results indicate that in neutral static stability, when the mean flow direction over the interrogation window is relatively uniform, the random error of the estimates increases as the mean wind speed and turbulence intensity increases. In convective conditions, larger errors may occur as a result of the cellular nature of convection and the dramatic changes in wind direction that may span the interrogation window. Synthetic fields were also used to determine the significance of various image processing and numerical steps used in the CCA. Results show that an iterative approach that dynamically reduces the block size provides the largest performance gains. Finally, data from a field experiment conducted in 2013 in Chico, California, are presented. Comparisons with Doppler lidar data indicate excellent agreement for the 10-min mean wind velocity computed over a set of 150 h: the root-mean-square deviations (and slopes) for the u and υ components are 0.36 m s−1 (0.974) and 0.37 m s−1 (0.991), respectively, with correlation coefficients > 0.99.

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Shane D. Mayor
,
Philippe R. Spalart
, and
Gregory J. Tripoli

Abstract

An arrangement of boundary conditions is described and demonstrated that facilitates the large-eddy simulation (LES) of inhomogeneous boundary layers such as internal boundary layers. In addition to the domain where the internal boundary layer develops, the method requires a section of domain over the upwind surface that is of the order of 10 boundary layer thicknesses and thus similar in size to that needed for the LES of the upwind boundary layer. In addition to periodic lateral, closed upstream, and open downstream boundary conditions, a simple and efficient perturbation recycling technique, which follows from one of Lund, Wu, and Squires, is used to generate a steady supply of fully developed turbulence from the inflow boundary. The arrangement is used to simulate a convective internal boundary layer during a cold-air outbreak over water. Results show the method consistently produces a solution that is homogeneous over the upwind surface and inhomogeneous over the downwind surface, and that the statistics are stationary after spinup. The sensitivity to the placement of the outflow boundary is tested, and examples of instantaneous and mean fields generated by the simulations are shown.

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Shane D. Mayor
,
Jennifer P. Lowe
, and
Christopher F. Mauzey

Abstract

Two-component horizontal motion vectors of aerosol features were calculated by applying a cross-correlation algorithm to square image blocks extracted from consecutive pairs of elastic backscatter lidar scans. The resulting vector components were compared with corresponding horizontal wind components from tower-mounted sonic anemometers located at the center of the image blocks. In the analysis 180 245 pairs of vectors derived from 75 days of field data collected between 19 March and 11 June 2007 were used. Examples of time series comparisons from 4-h periods during light, strong, and changing wind conditions are presented. Mean signal-to-noise ratios (SNRs) of the block backscatter data, maxima of the cross-correlation functions (CCFs), observed wind speed, and turbulent kinetic energy (TKE) were also calculated for each velocity component comparison. The correlation between the lidar-derived motion components and sonic anemometer wind components tends to be highest during light wind conditions with low TKE. An empirical relationship is presented that enables the elimination of vectors that are likely to be significantly different than the anemometer measurement. When applied to the entire set of scans available, this quality control (QC) method increases the correlation between the two forms of measurements. Finally, the cross-correlation algorithm and QC method are applied to a mesh of locations over pairs of scans. Two examples of two-dimensional and two-component vector flow fields are shown. In one case, the flow field reveals a rotational circulation associated with a vortex and, in the other case, convergence and transport near the leading edge of a density current front.

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Pierre Dérian
,
Christopher F. Mauzey
, and
Shane D. Mayor

Abstract

A motion estimation algorithm was applied to image sequences produced by a horizontally scanning elastic backscatter lidar. The algorithm, a wavelet-based optical flow estimator named Typhoon, produces dense two-component vector flow fields that correspond to the apparent motion of microscale aerosol features. To validate the efficacy of this approach for the remote measurement of wind fields in the lower atmosphere, an experiment was conducted in Chico, California, in 2013 and 2014. The flow fields, estimated every 17 s, were compared with measurements from an independent Doppler lidar. Time series of wind speed and direction, statistical assessment of the 10-min averages, and examples of wind fields are presented. The comparison of 10-min averages at 100 m AGL reveals excellent correlations between estimates from the Typhoon algorithm and measurements from the Doppler lidar. Power spectra and spectral transfer functions are computed to estimate the filtering effects of the algorithm in the spatial domain.

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Peter P. Sullivan
,
Chin-Hoh Moeng
,
Bjorn Stevens
,
Donald H. Lenschow
, and
Shane D. Mayor

Abstract

The authors use large-eddy simulation (LES) to investigate entrainment and structure of the inversion layer of a clear convectively driven planetary boundary layer (PBL) over a range of bulk Richardson numbers, Ri. The LES code uses a nested grid technique to achieve fine resolution in all three directions in the inversion layer.

Extensive flow visualization is used to examine the structure of the inversion layer and to illustrate the temporal and spatial interaction of a thermal plume and the overlying inversion. It is found that coherent structures in the convective PBL, that is, thermal plumes, are primary instigators of entrainment in the Ri range 13.6 ⩽ Ri ⩽ 43.8. At Ri = 13.6, strong horizontal and downward velocities are generated near the inversion layer because of the plume–interface interaction. This leads to folding of the interface and hence entrainment of warm inversion air at the plume’s edge. At Ri = 34.5, the inversion’s strong stability prevents folding of the interface but strong horizontal and downward motions near the plume’s edge pull down pockets of warm air below the nominal inversion height. These pockets of warm air are then scoured off by turbulent motions and entrained into the PBL. The structure of the inversion interface from LES is in good visual agreement with lidar measurements in the PBL obtained during the Lidars in Flat Terrain field experiment.

A quadrant analysis of the buoyancy flux shows that net entrainment flux (or average minimum buoyancy flux min) is identified with quadrant IV w θ + < 0 motions, that is, warm air moving downward. Plumes generate both large negative quadrant II w + θ < 0 and positive quadrant III w θ > 0 buoyancy fluxes that tend to cancel.

The maximum vertical gradient in potential temperature at every (x, y) grid point is used to define a local PBL height, z i (x, y). A statistical analysis of z i shows that skewness of z i depends on the inversion strength. Spectra of z i exhibit a sensitivity to grid resolution. The normalized entrainment rate w e /w∗, where w e and w∗ are entrainment and convective velocities, varies as ARi−1 with A ≈ 0.2 in the range 13.6 ⩽ Ri ⩽ 43.8 and is in good agreement with convection tank measurements. For a clear convective PBL, the authors found that the finite thickness of the inversion layer needs to be considered in an entrainment rate parameterization derived from a jump condition.

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