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Peter Sheridan and Simon Vosper

Abstract

The downslope windstorm during intensive observation period (IOP) 6 was the most severe that was detected during the Terrain-Induced Rotor Experiment (T-REX) in Owens Valley in the Sierra Nevada of California. Cross sections of vertical motion in the form of a composite constructed from aircraft data spanning the depth of the troposphere are used to link the winds experienced at the surface to the changing structure of the mountain-wave field aloft. Detailed analysis of other observations allows the role played by a passing occluded front, associated with the rapid intensification (and subsequent cessation) of the windstorm, to be studied. High-resolution, nested modeling using the Met Office Unified Model (MetUM) is used to study qualitative aspects of the flow and the influence of the front, and this modeling suggests that accurate forecasting of the timing and position of both the front and strong mountaintop winds is crucial to capture the wave dynamics and accompanying windstorm. Meanwhile, far ahead of the front, simulated downslope winds are shallow and foehnlike, driven by the thermal contrast between the upstream and valley air mass. The study also highlights the difficulties of capturing the detailed interaction of weather systems with large and complex orography in numerical weather prediction.

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Peter Sheridan, Simon Vosper, and Samantha Smith

Abstract

Recent improvements to an algorithm to be used operationally for downscaling screen temperatures from numerical weather prediction models are described. Testing against very high resolution dynamically downscaled screen temperatures and intensive field measurements taken during the Cold-Air Pooling Experiment (COLPEX) is performed. The improvements are based on a physical understanding of the processes involved in the formation of cold-air pools (CAPs) that is informed by recent research. The algorithm includes a parameterization of sidewall sheltering effects that lead to lower temperatures in valley-bottom CAPs on clear, calm nights. Advection and adjustment over exposed hilltops results in higher screen temperatures than on flat ground but lower temperatures relative to the free air above the valley at the same elevation, and a treatment of this effect has also been developed. These processes form the major contributions to the often dramatic small-scale variations in temperature in complex terrain in stable boundary layer conditions, even when height variation is fairly shallow. The improvements result in qualitatively better reproduction of subgrid temperature patterns in complex terrain during CAPs. Statistical forecast errors are subsequently improved.

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Andrew C. Bushell, Neal Butchart, Stephen H. Derbyshire, David R. Jackson, Glenn J. Shutts, Simon B. Vosper, and Stuart Webster

Abstract

Analysis of a high-resolution, convection-permitting simulation of the tropical Indian Ocean has revealed empirical relationships between precipitation and gravity wave vertical momentum flux on grid scales typical of earth system models. Hence, the authors take a rough functional form, whereby the wave flux source spectrum has an amplitude proportional to the square root of total precipitation, to represent gravity wave source strengths in the Met Office global model’s spectral nonorographic scheme. Key advantages of the new source are simplicity and responsiveness to changes in convection processes without dependence upon model-specific details of their representation. Thus, the new source scheme is potentially a straightforward adaptation for a class of spectral gravity wave schemes widely used for current state-of-the-art earth system models. Against an invariant source, the new parameterized source generates launch-level flux amplitudes with greater spatial and temporal variability, producing probability density functions for absolute momentum flux over the ocean that have extended tails of large-amplitude, low-occurrence events. Such distributions appear more realistic in comparison with reported balloon observations. Source intermittency at the launch level affects mean fluxes at higher levels in two ways: directly, as a result of upward propagation of the new source variation, and indirectly, through changes in filtering characteristics that arise from intermittency. Initial assessment of the new scheme in the Met Office global model indicates an improved representation of the quasi-biennial oscillation and sensitivity that offers potential for further impact in the future.

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Stephen D. Eckermann, Andreas Dörnbrack, Harald Flentje, Simon B. Vosper, M. J. Mahoney, T. Paul Bui, and Kenneth S. Carslaw

Abstract

The results of a multimodel forecasting effort to predict mountain wave–induced polar stratospheric clouds (PSCs) for airborne science during the third Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment (SAGE III) Ozone Loss and Validation Experiment (SOLVE)/Third European Stratospheric Experiment on Ozone (THESEO 2000) Arctic ozone campaign are assessed. The focus is on forecasts for five flights of NASA's instrumented DC-8 research aircraft in which PSCs observed by onboard aerosol lidars were identified as wave related. Aircraft PSC measurements over northern Scandinavia on 25–27 January 2000 were accurately forecast by the mountain wave models several days in advance, permitting coordinated quasi-Lagrangian flights that measured their composition and structure in unprecedented detail. On 23 January 2000 mountain wave ice PSCs were forecast over eastern Greenland. Thick layers of wave-induced ice PSC were measured by DC-8 aerosol lidars in regions along the flight track where the forecasts predicted enhanced stratospheric mountain wave amplitudes. The data from these flights, which were planned using this forecast guidance, have substantially improved the overall understanding of PSC microphysics within mountain waves. Observations of PSCs south of the DC-8 flight track on 30 November 1999 are consistent with forecasts of mountain wave–induced ice clouds over southern Scandinavia, and are validated locally using radiosonde data. On the remaining two flights wavelike PSCs were reported in regions where no mountain wave PSCs were forecast. For 10 December 1999, it is shown that locally generated mountain waves could not have propagated into the stratosphere where the PSCs were observed, confirming conclusions of other recent studies. For the PSC observed on 14 January 2000 over northern Greenland, recent work indicates that nonorographic gravity waves radiated from the jet stream produced this PSC, confirming the original forecast of no mountain wave influence. This forecast is validated further by comparing with a nearby ER-2 flight segment to the south of the DC-8, which intercepted and measured local stratospheric mountain waves with properties similar to those predicted. In total, the original forecast guidance proves to be consistent with PSC data acquired from all five of these DC-8 flights. The work discussed herein highlights areas where improvements can be made in future wave PSC forecasting campaigns, such as use of anelastic rather than Boussinesq linearized gridpoint models and a need to forecast stratospheric gravity waves from sources other than mountains.

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James D. Doyle, Saša Gaberšek, Qingfang Jiang, Ligia Bernardet, John M. Brown, Andreas Dörnbrack, Elmar Filaus, Vanda Grubišić, Daniel J. Kirshbaum, Oswald Knoth, Steven Koch, Juerg Schmidli, Ivana Stiperski, Simon Vosper, and Shiyuan Zhong

Abstract

Numerical simulations of flow over steep terrain using 11 different nonhydrostatic numerical models are compared and analyzed. A basic benchmark and five other test cases are simulated in a two-dimensional framework using the same initial state, which is based on conditions during Intensive Observation Period (IOP) 6 of the Terrain-Induced Rotor Experiment (T-REX), in which intense mountain-wave activity was observed. All of the models use an identical horizontal resolution of 1 km and the same vertical resolution. The six simulated test cases use various terrain heights: a 100-m bell-shaped hill, a 1000-m idealized ridge that is steeper on the lee slope, a 2500-m ridge with the same terrain shape, and a cross-Sierra terrain profile. The models are tested with both free-slip and no-slip lower boundary conditions.

The results indicate a surprisingly diverse spectrum of simulated mountain-wave characteristics including lee waves, hydraulic-like jump features, and gravity wave breaking. The vertical velocity standard deviation is twice as large in the free-slip experiments relative to the no-slip simulations. Nevertheless, the no-slip simulations also exhibit considerable variations in the wave characteristics. The results imply relatively low predictability of key characteristics of topographically forced flows such as the strength of downslope winds and stratospheric wave breaking. The vertical flux of horizontal momentum, which is a domain-integrated quantity, exhibits considerable spread among the models, particularly for the experiments with the 2500-m ridge and Sierra terrain. The differences among the various model simulations, all initialized with identical initial states, suggest that model dynamical cores may be an important component of diversity for the design of mesoscale ensemble systems for topographically forced flows. The intermodel differences are significantly larger than sensitivity experiments within a single modeling system.

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Georg j. Mayr, David Plavcan, Laurence Armi, Andrew Elvidge, Branko Grisogono, Kristian Horvath, Peter Jackson, Alfred Neururer, Petra Seibert, James W. Steenburgh, Ivana Stiperski, Andrew Sturman, Željko Večenaj, Johannes Vergeiner, Simon Vosper, and Günther Zängl

Abstract

Strong winds crossing elevated terrain and descending to its lee occur over mountainous areas worldwide. Winds fulfilling these two criteria are called foehn in this paper although different names exist depending on the region, the sign of the temperature change at onset, and the depth of the overflowing layer. These winds affect the local weather and climate and impact society. Classification is difficult because other wind systems might be superimposed on them or share some characteristics. Additionally, no unanimously agreed-upon name, definition, nor indications for such winds exist. The most trusted classifications have been performed by human experts. A classification experiment for different foehn locations in the Alps and different classifier groups addressed hitherto unanswered questions about the uncertainty of these classifications, their reproducibility, and dependence on the level of expertise. One group consisted of mountain meteorology experts, the other two of master’s degree students who had taken mountain meteorology courses, and a further two of objective algorithms. Sixty periods of 48 h were classified for foehn–no foehn conditions at five Alpine foehn locations. The intra-human-classifier detection varies by about 10 percentage points (interquartile range). Experts and students are nearly indistinguishable. The algorithms are in the range of human classifications. One difficult case appeared twice in order to examine the reproducibility of classified foehn duration, which turned out to be 50% or less. The classification dataset can now serve as a test bed for automatic classification algorithms, which—if successful—eliminate the drawbacks of manual classifications: lack of scalability and reproducibility.

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THE TERRAIN-INDUCED ROTOR EXPERIMENT

A Field Campaign Overview Including Observational Highlights

Vanda Grubišić, James D. Doyle, Joachim Kuettner, Stephen Mobbs, Ronald B. Smith, C. David Whiteman, Richard Dirks, Stanley Czyzyk, Stephen A. Cohn, Simon Vosper, Martin Weissmann, Samuel Haimov, Stephan F. J. De Wekker, Laura L. Pan, and Fotini Katopodes Chow

The Terrain-Induced Rotor Experiment (T-REX) is a coordinated international project, composed of an observational field campaign and a research program, focused on the investigation of atmospheric rotors and closely related phenomena in complex terrain. The T-REX field campaign took place during March and April 2006 in the lee of the southern Sierra Nevada in eastern California. Atmospheric rotors have been traditionally defined as quasi-two-dimensional atmospheric vortices that form parallel to and downwind of a mountain ridge under conditions conducive to the generation of large-amplitude mountain waves. Intermittency, high levels of turbulence, and complex small-scale internal structure characterize rotors, which are known hazards to general aviation. The objective of the T-REX field campaign was to provide an unprecedented comprehensive set of in situ and remotely sensed meteorological observations from the ground to UTLS altitudes for the documentation of the spatiotemporal characteristics and internal structure of a tightly coupled system consisting of an atmospheric rotor, terrain-induced internal gravity waves, and a complex terrain boundary layer. In addition, T-REX had several ancillary objectives including the studies of UTLS chemical distribution in the presence of mountain waves and complex-terrain boundary layer in the absence of waves and rotors. This overview provides a background of the project including the information on its science objectives, experimental design, and observational systems, along with highlights of key observations obtained during the field campaign.

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Juerg Schmidli, Brian Billings, Fotini K. Chow, Stephan F. J. de Wekker, James Doyle, Vanda Grubišić, Teddy Holt, Qiangfang Jiang, Katherine A. Lundquist, Peter Sheridan, Simon Vosper, C. David Whiteman, Andrzej A. Wyszogrodzki, and Günther Zängl

Abstract

Three-dimensional simulations of the daytime thermally induced valley wind system for an idealized valley–plain configuration, obtained from nine nonhydrostatic mesoscale models, are compared with special emphasis on the evolution of the along-valley wind. The models use the same initial and lateral boundary conditions, and standard parameterizations for turbulence, radiation, and land surface processes. The evolution of the mean along-valley wind (averaged over the valley cross section) is similar for all models, except for a time shift between individual models of up to 2 h and slight differences in the speed of the evolution. The analysis suggests that these differences are primarily due to differences in the simulated surface energy balance such as the dependence of the sensible heat flux on surface wind speed. Additional sensitivity experiments indicate that the evolution of the mean along-valley flow is largely independent of the choice of the dynamical core and of the turbulence parameterization scheme. The latter does, however, have a significant influence on the vertical structure of the boundary layer and of the along-valley wind. Thus, this ideal case may be useful for testing and evaluation of mesoscale numerical models with respect to land surface–atmosphere interactions and turbulence parameterizations.

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Rachel A. Stratton, Catherine A. Senior, Simon B. Vosper, Sonja S. Folwell, Ian A. Boutle, Paul D. Earnshaw, Elizabeth Kendon, Adrian P. Lock, Andrew Malcolm, James Manners, Cyril J. Morcrette, Christopher Short, Alison J. Stirling, Christopher M. Taylor, Simon Tucker, Stuart Webster, and Jonathan M. Wilkinson

Abstract

A convection-permitting multiyear regional climate simulation using the Met Office Unified Model has been run for the first time on an Africa-wide domain. The model has been run as part of the Future Climate for Africa (FCFA) Improving Model Processes for African Climate (IMPALA) project, and its configuration, domain, and forcing data are described here in detail. The model [Pan-African Convection-Permitting Regional Climate Simulation with the Met Office UM (CP4-Africa)] uses a 4.5-km horizontal grid spacing at the equator and is run without a convection parameterization, nested within a global atmospheric model driven by observations at the sea surface, which does include a convection scheme. An additional regional simulation, with identical resolution and physical parameterizations to the global model, but with the domain, land surface, and aerosol climatologies of CP4-Africa, has been run to aid in the understanding of the differences between the CP4-Africa and global model, in particular to isolate the impact of the convection parameterization and resolution. The effect of enforcing moisture conservation in CP4-Africa is described and its impact on reducing extreme precipitation values is assessed. Preliminary results from the first five years of the CP4-Africa simulation show substantial improvements in JJA average rainfall compared to the parameterized convection models, with most notably a reduction in the persistent dry bias in West Africa, giving an indication of the benefits to be gained from running a convection-permitting simulation over the whole African continent.

Open access