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Temple R. Lee and Michael Buban

Abstract

The Land–Atmosphere Feedback Experiment (LAFE) was a field campaign to investigate influences of different land surface types on the atmospheric boundary layer (ABL). The primary goals of LAFE were to better understand ABL development and structure and to improve turbulence parameterizations in numerical weather prediction models. Three 10-m micrometeorological towers were installed over different land surface types (i.e., early growth soybean, native grassland, and mature soybean) along a 1.7-km southwest–northeast-oriented line. All towers measured standard meteorological variables in addition to heat, moisture, and momentum fluxes. In this study, we used these measurements to evaluate the validity of applying Monin–Obukhov similarity theory (MOST) to represent surface–atmosphere exchange over different land surface types. We investigated relationships between stability length ζ and the dimensionless wind shear ϕ m, temperature gradient ϕ h, and moisture gradient ϕ q as well as relationships between bulk Richardson number Rib, friction coefficient C u, heat-transfer coefficient C t, and moisture-transfer coefficient C r. We evaluated the new similarity functions developed using independent datasets obtained during the Verification of the Origins of Rotation in Tornadoes Experiment-Southeast (VORTEX-SE). We found that using the Rib functions rather than the more traditional ζ functions to compute wind, temperature, and moisture yielded better agreement with the VORTEX-SE observations. These findings underscore limitations in MOST and motivate the need to consider modifying the functional forms of the similarity equations that form the basis for surface-layer parameterizations in numerical weather prediction models.

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Temple R. Lee and Sandip Pal

Abstract

Rawinsonde observations have long been used to estimate the atmospheric boundary layer depth (BLD), which is an important parameter for monitoring air quality, dispersion studies, weather forecast models, and inversion systems for estimating regional surface–atmosphere fluxes of tracers. Although many approaches exist for deriving the BLDs from rawinsonde observations, the bulk Richardson approach has been found to be most appropriate. However, the impact of errors in the measured thermodynamic and kinematic fields on the estimated BLDs remains unexplored. We argue that quantifying BLD error (δBLD) estimates is equally as important as the BLDs themselves. Here we quantified δBLD by applying the bulk Richardson method to 35 years of rawinsonde data obtained from three stations in the United States: Sterling, Virginia; Amarillo, Texas; and Salt Lake City, Utah. Results revealed similar features in terms of their respective errors. A −2°C bias in temperature yielded a mean δBLD ranging from −15 to 200 m. A +2°C bias in temperature yielded a mean δBLD ranging from −214 to +18 m. For a −5% relative humidity bias, the mean δBLD ranged from −302 to +7 m. For a +5% relative humidity bias, the mean δBLD ranged from +2 to +249 m. Differences of ±2 m s−1 in the winds yielded BLD errors of ~±300 m. The δBLD increased as a function of BLD when introducing errors to the thermodynamic fields and decreased as a function of BLD when introducing errors to the kinematic fields. These findings expand upon previous work evaluating rawinsonde-derived δBLD by quantifying δBLD arising from rawinsonde-derived thermodynamic and kinematic measurements. Knowledge of δBLD is critical in, for example, intercomparison studies where rawinsonde-derived BLDs are used as references.

Open access
Temple R. Lee and Stephan F. J. De Wekker

Abstract

The planetary boundary layer (PBL) height is an essential parameter required for many applications, including weather forecasting and dispersion modeling for air quality. Estimates of PBL height are not easily available and often come from twice-daily rawinsonde observations at airports, typically at 0000 and 1200 UTC. Questions often arise regarding the applicability of PBL heights retrieved from these twice-daily observations to surrounding locations. Obtaining this information requires knowledge of the spatial variability of PBL heights. This knowledge is particularly limited in regions with mountainous terrain. The goal of this study is to develop a method for estimating daytime PBL heights in the Page Valley, located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. The approach includes using 1) rawinsonde observations from the nearest sounding station [Dulles Airport (IAD)], which is located 90 km northeast of the Page Valley, 2) North American Regional Reanalysis (NARR) output, and 3) simulations with the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model. When selecting days on which PBL heights from NARR compare well to PBL heights determined from the IAD soundings, it is found that PBL heights are higher (on the order of 200–400 m) over the Page Valley than at IAD and that these differences are typically larger in summer than in winter. WRF simulations indicate that larger sensible heat fluxes and terrain-following characteristics of PBL height both contribute to PBL heights being higher over the Page Valley than at IAD.

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Temple R. Lee, Michael Buban, Edward Dumas, and C. Bruce Baker

Abstract

Upscaling point measurements from micrometeorological towers is a challenging task that is important for a variety of applications, for example, in process studies of convection initiation, carbon and energy budget studies, and the improvement of model parameterizations. In the present study, a technique was developed to determine the horizontal variability in sensible heat flux H surrounding micrometeorological towers. The technique was evaluated using 15-min flux observations, as well as measurements of land surface temperature and air temperature obtained from small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) conducted during a one-day measurement campaign. The computed H was found to be comparable to the micrometeorological measurements to within 5–10 W m−2. Furthermore, when comparing H computed using this technique with H determined using large-eddy simulations (LES), differences of <10 W m−2 were typically found. Thus, implementing this technique using observations from sUAS will help determine sensible heat flux variability at horizontal spatial scales larger than can be provided from flux tower measurements alone.

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Michael S. Buban, Temple R. Lee, and C. Bruce Baker

Abstract

Since drought and excessive rainfall can have significant socioeconomic impacts, it is important to have accurate high-resolution gridded datasets that can help improve analysis and forecasting of these conditions. One such widely used dataset is the Parameter-Elevation Regressions on Independent Slopes Model (PRISM). PRISM uses a digital elevation model (DEM) to obtain gridded elevation analyses and then uses a regression analysis along with approximately 15 000 surface precipitation measurements to produce a 4-km resolution daily precipitation product over the conterminous United States. The U.S. Climate Reference Network (USCRN) consists of 114 stations that take highly accurate meteorological measurements across all regions of the United States. A comparison between the USCRN and PRISM was performed using data from 2006 to 2018. There were good comparisons between the two datasets across nearly all seasons and regions; most mean daily differences were <1 mm, with most absolute daily differences ~5 mm. The most general characteristics were for a net dry bias in the PRISM data in the Southwest and a net moist bias in the southern United States. Verifying the PRISM dataset provides us with confidence it can be used with estimates of evapotranspiration, high-resolution gridded soil properties, and vegetation datasets to produce a daily gridded soil moisture product for operational use in the analyses and prediction of drought and excessive soil moisture conditions.

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Temple R. Lee, Michael Buban, David D. Turner, Tilden P. Meyers, and C. Bruce Baker

Abstract

The High-Resolution Rapid Refresh (HRRR) model became operational at the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) in 2014 but the HRRR’s performance over certain regions of the coterminous United States has not been well studied. In the present study, we evaluated how well version 2 of the HRRR, which became operational at NCEP in August 2016, simulates the near-surface meteorological fields and the surface energy balance at two locations in northern Alabama. We evaluated the 1-, 3-, 6-, 12-, and 18-h HRRR forecasts, as well as the HRRR’s initial conditions (i.e., the 0-h initial fields) using meteorological and flux observations obtained from two 10-m micrometeorological towers installed near Belle Mina and Cullman, Alabama. During the 8-month model evaluation period, from 1 September 2016 to 30 April 2017, we found that the HRRR accurately simulated the observations of near-surface air and dewpoint temperature (R 2 > 0.95). When comparing the HRRR output with the observed sensible, latent, and ground heat flux at both sites, we found that the agreement was weaker (R 2 ≈ 0.7), and the root-mean-square errors were much larger than those found for the near-surface meteorological variables. These findings help motivate the need for additional work to improve the representation of surface fluxes and their coupling to the atmosphere in future versions of the HRRR to be more physically realistic.

Full access
Paul M. Markowski, Nathan T. Lis, David D. Turner, Temple R. Lee, and Michael S. Buban

Abstract

Observations of near-surface vertical wind profiles and vertical momentum fluxes obtained from a Doppler lidar and instrumented towers deployed during VORTEX-SE in the spring of 2017 are analyzed. In particular, departures from the predictions of Monin–Obukhov similarity theory (MOST) are documented on thunderstorm days, both in the warm air masses ahead of storms and within the cool outflow of storms, where MOST assumptions (e.g., horizontal homogeneity and a steady state) are least credible. In these regions, it is found that the nondimensional vertical wind shear near the surface commonly exceeds predictions by MOST. The departures from MOST have implications for the specification of the lower boundary condition in numerical simulations of convective storms. Documenting departures from MOST is a necessary first-step toward improving the lower boundary condition and parameterization of near-surface turbulence (“wall models”) in storm simulations.

Free access
Greg M. McFarquhar, Elizabeth Smith, Elizabeth A. Pillar-Little, Keith Brewster, Phillip B. Chilson, Temple R. Lee, Sean Waugh, Nusrat Yussouf, Xuguang Wang, Ming Xue, Gijs de Boer, Jeremy A. Gibbs, Chris Fiebrich, Bruce Baker, Jerry Brotzge, Frederick Carr, Hui Christophersen, Martin Fengler, Philip Hall, Terry Hock, Adam Houston, Robert Huck, Jamey Jacob, Robert Palmer, Patricia K. Quinn, Melissa Wagner, Yan (Rockee) Zhang, and Darren Hawk
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Brian J. Butterworth, Ankur R. Desai, Philip A. Townsend, Grant W. Petty, Christian G. Andresen, Timothy H. Bertram, Eric L. Kruger, James K. Mineau, Erik R. Olson, Sreenath Paleri, Rosalyn A. Pertzborn, Claire Pettersen, Paul C. Stoy, Jonathan E. Thom, Michael P. Vermeuel, Timothy J. Wagner, Daniel B. Wright, Ting Zheng, Stefan Metzger, Mark D. Schwartz, Trevor J. Iglinski, Matthias Mauder, Johannes Speidel, Hannes Vogelmann, Luise Wanner, Travis J. Augustine, William O. J. Brown, Steven P. Oncley, Michael Buban, Temple R. Lee, Patricia Cleary, David J. Durden, Christopher R. Florian, Kathleen Lantz, Laura D. Riihimaki, Joseph Sedlar, Tilden P. Meyers, David M. Plummer, Eliceo Ruiz Guzman, Elizabeth N. Smith, Matthias Sühring, David D. Turner, Zhien Wang, Loren D. White, and James M. Wilczak

Abstract

The Chequamegon Heterogeneous Ecosystem Energy-Balance Study Enabled by a High-Density Extensive Array of Detectors 2019 (CHEESEHEAD19) is an ongoing National Science Foundation project based on an intensive field campaign that occurred from June to October 2019. The purpose of the study is to examine how the atmospheric boundary layer (ABL) responds to spatial heterogeneity in surface energy fluxes. One of the main objectives is to test whether lack of energy balance closure measured by eddy covariance (EC) towers is related to mesoscale atmospheric processes. Finally, the project evaluates data-driven methods for scaling surface energy fluxes, with the aim to improve model–data comparison and integration. To address these questions, an extensive suite of ground, tower, profiling, and airborne instrumentation was deployed over a 10 km × 10 km domain of a heterogeneous forest ecosystem in the Chequamegon–Nicolet National Forest in northern Wisconsin, United States, centered on an existing 447-m tower that anchors an AmeriFlux/NOAA supersite (US-PFa/WLEF). The project deployed one of the world’s highest-density networks of above-canopy EC measurements of surface energy fluxes. This tower EC network was coupled with spatial measurements of EC fluxes from aircraft; maps of leaf and canopy properties derived from airborne spectroscopy, ground-based measurements of plant productivity, phenology, and physiology; and atmospheric profiles of wind, water vapor, and temperature using radar, sodar, lidar, microwave radiometers, infrared interferometers, and radiosondes. These observations are being used with large-eddy simulation and scaling experiments to better understand submesoscale processes and improve formulations of subgrid-scale processes in numerical weather and climate models.

Open access