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Wendell A. Nuss and David W. Titley


The method of multiquadric interpolation is described and compared to the Barnes and Cressman methods of meteorological objective analysis. The method of multiquadric interpolation uses hyperboloid radial basis functions to fit scattered data to a uniform grid. Results for an analytical function indicate that the method is more accurate than the Barnes or Cressman methods. Application to actual meteorological data indicates that multiquadric interpolation produces excellent analyses that retain small-scale features resolved by the observations in any subregion of the analysis.

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C. E. Dorman, D. P. Rogers, W. Nuss, and W. T. Thompson


An instrumented C-130 aircraft flew over water around Point Sur, California, on 17 June 1996 under strong northwest wind conditions and a strong marine inversion. Patterns were flown from 30- to 1200-m elevation and up to 120 km offshore. Nearshore, marine air accelerated past Point Sur, reaching a surface maximum of 17 m s−1 in the lee. Winds measured over water in and above the marine layer were alongshore with no significant cross-shore flow. Sea level pressure, 10-m air temperature, and air temperature inversion base generally decreased toward the coast and were an absolute minimum just downcoast of the wind speed maximum. The sea surface temperature also decreased toward the coast, but was an absolute minimum directly off Point Sur. The near-coast, air temperature inversion base height was 400 m north of Point Sur, decreased to a minimum of 50 m in the lee of Point Sur, then increased farther to the south. Wind speeds were at a maximum centered along the air temperature inversion base; the fastest was 27 m s−1 in the lee of Point Sur.

Using a Froude number calculation that includes the lower half of the capping layer, the marine layer in the area is determined to have been supercritical. Most of the marine layer had Froude numbers between 1.0 and 2.0 with the extreme range of 0.8–2.8. Temperatures in the air temperature inversion in the lee were substantially greater than elsewhere, modifying the surface pressure gradient. The overall structure was a hydraulic supercritical expansion fan in the lee of Point Sur under the influence of rotation and surface friction.

The Naval Research Laboratory nonhydrostatic Coupled Ocean/Atmosphere Mesoscale Prediction System (COAMPS) indicated a broad, supercritical marine boundary layer moving to the south along central California and Point Sur during the aircraft flight. The marine boundary layer thinned and accelerated into the lee of Point Sur, which was the site of the fastest sea level wind speed along central California. Isotherms dip and speeds decreased in the lee of Point Sur in the capping inversion well above the marine layer. COAMPS forecasted a compression shock wave initiating off the upwind side of the topography behind Point Sur and other coastal points to the north. Evidence from the model and the aircraft supports the existence of an oblique hydraulic jump on the north side of Point Sur.

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F. M. Ralph, L. Armi, J. M. Bane, C. Dorman, W. D. Neff, P. J. Neiman, W. Nuss, and P. O. G. Persson


A coastally trapped disturbance (CTD), characterized by southerly flow at the surface on 10–11 June 1994, was observed from the California Bight to Bodega Bay during a field experiment along the California coast. (North–south approximates the coast-parallel direction.) Data from a special observational network of wind profilers, radio acoustic sounding systems, special surface data, balloon ascents, and a research aircraft were used with satellite and synoptic data to explore both the CTD structure and the regional-scale changes before the event.

The disruption of the climatological northerly flow along the central California coast, which preconditioned the area for the development of a CTD, began with the eastward movement of a surface high into Washington and Oregon and the amplification of a thermal low in northern California. As with most CTDs in the region, this occurred over the 2–3 days preceding the CTD’s initiation. These large-scale changes caused westward advection of warm continental air across much of the California coast, which increased temperatures by 10°–12°C in the layer from 0.4 to 2.0 km above mean sea level (MSL) during the 48 h before southerly flow appeared offshore at the surface. The warming reversed the alongshore sea level pressure gradients near the coast by creating a region of pressure falls extending along 600–1000 km of the coast. This also modified the cross-shore pressure gradient and thus the geostrophic alongshore flow. The warming along the coast also increased the strength of the temperature inversion capping the marine boundary layer (MBL) by a factor of 2–4 over 48 h. The synoptic-scale changes also moved the axis of the climatological near-surface, northerly jet much farther offshore from central California and strengthened this jet near the headlands of Capes Mendocino and Blanco.

The development and decay of southerly flow at the surface along the coast coincided roughly with the evolution of a mesoscale low 200 km offshore, and of a coastal ridge roughly 100 km wide. However, the CTD initiation also followed a 500-m thickening of the MBL inversion in the California Bight region where a Catalina eddy was initially present. At surface sites, the CTD was marked by the passage of a pressure trough, followed by a gradual shift to southerly flow and the appearance of clouds. The area of low cloud was not coincident with the region of southerly flow. The transition to southerly flow propagated northward along shore at 11.9 ± 0.3 m s−1 on 10 June, stalled for 11–12 h during the part of the diurnal cycle normally characterized by enhanced northerly flow, and then continued propagating northward along shore at 11.6 m s−1. Both the geostrophic wind and the isallobaric component of the ageostrophic wind were consistent with southerly flow at the surface. Southerly flow was observed up to 5 km MSL in this event and in others, which indicates that the synoptic-scale environment of many CTDs in this region may include a deep tropospheric cyclonic circulation or trough offshore.

Both cross-shore and alongshore flights performed by a research aircraft documented the CTD structure and showed that the southerly flow extended at least 100 km offshore and appeared first within the MBL inversion as the inversion thickened upward. While the top of the inversion rose, the height of the inversion’s base remained almost unchanged. The thickening of the inversion decreased with distance offshore, and there was no significant change in the MBL depth (i.e., the inversion base height), until 12–14 h after the surface wind shift. Thus, it is suggested that two-layer, shallow water idealizations may be unable to represent this phenomenon adequately. Nonetheless, the gradual wind shift, the thickening inversion, and the correlation between southerly flow and a mesoscale coastal pressure ridge are consistent with a coastally trapped Kelvin wave, albeit one with a higher-order vertical structure that can exist in a two-layer model. However, the semipermanent nature of the changes in the MBL and its inversion is more characteristic of a shallowly sloped internal bore. The temperature increase and lack of southerly flow exceeding the northward phase speed are inconsistent with gravity current behavior.

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F. M. Ralph, P. J. Neiman, J. M. Wilczak, P. O. G. Persson, J. M. Bane, M. L. Cancillo, and W. Nuss


Detailed observations of a coastally trapped disturbance, or wind reversal, on 10–11 June 1994 along the California coast provide comprehensive documentation of its structure, based on aircraft, wind profiler, radio acoustic sounding system, and buoy measurements. Unlike the expectations from earlier studies based on limited data, which concluded that the deepening of the marine boundary layer (MBL) was a key factor, the 1994 data show that the perturbation was better characterized as an upward thickening of the inversion capping the MBL. As the event propagated over a site, the reversal in the alongshore wind direction occurred first within the inversion and then 3–4 h later at the surface. A node in the vertical structure (defined here as the altitude of zero vertical displacement) is found just above the inversion base, with up to 200-m upward displacements of isentropic surfaces above the node, and 70-m downward displacements below.

Although this is a single event, it is shown that the vertical structure observed is representative of most other coastally trapped wind reversals. This is determined by comparing a composite of the 10–11 June 1994 event, based on measurements at seven buoys, with surface pressure perturbations calculated from aircraft data. These results are compared to the composite of many events. In each case a weak pressure trough occurred between 2.4 and 4.0 h ahead of the surface wind reversal, and the pressure rose by 0.32–0.48 mb between the trough and the wind reversal. The pressure rise results from the cooling caused by the inversion’s upward expansion.

The propagation and structure of the event are shown to be best characterized as a mixed Kelvin wave–bore propagating within the inversion above the MBL, with the MBL acting as a quasi-rigid lower boundary. If the MBL is instead assumed to respond in unison with the inversion, then the theoretically predicted intrinsic phase speeds significantly exceed the observed intrinsic phase speed. The hybrid nature of the event is indicated by two primary characteristics: 1) the disturbance had a much shallower slope than expected for an internal bore, while at the same time the upward perturbation within the inversion was quasi-permanent rather than sinusoidal, which more closely resembles a bore; and 2) the predicted phase speeds for the “solitary” form of nonlinear Kelvin wave and for an internal bore are both close to the observed intrinsic phase speed.

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Rainer Bleck, Howard Bluestein, Lance Bosart, W. Edward Bracken, Toby Carlson, Jeffrey Chapman, Michael Dickinson, John R. Gyakum, Gregory Hakim, Eric Hoffman, Haig lskenderian, Daniel Keyser, Gary Lackmann, Wendell Nuss, Paul Roebber, Frederick Sanders, David Schultz, Kevin Tyle, and Peter Zwack

The Eighth Cyclone Workshop was held at the Far Hills Inn and Conference Center in Val Morin, Quebec, Canada, 12–16 October 1992. The workshop was arranged around several scientific themes of current research interest. The most widely debated theme was the applicability of “potential vorticity thinking” to theoretical, observational, and numerical studies of the life cycle of cyclones and the interaction of these cyclones with their environment on all spatial and temporal scales. A combination of invited and contributed talks, with preference given to younger scientists, made up the workshop.

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David P. Rogers, Clive E. Dorman, Kathleen A. Edwards, Ian M. Brooks, W. Kendall Melville, Stephen D. Burk, William T. Thompson, Teddy Holt, Linda M. Ström, Michael Tjernström, Branko Grisogono, John M. Bane, Wendell A. Nuss, Bruce M. Morley, and Allen J. Schanot

Some of the highlights of an experiment designed to study coastal atmospheric phenomena along the California coast (Coastal Waves 1996 experiment) are described. This study was designed to address several problems, including the cross-shore variability and turbulent structure of the marine boundary layer, the influence of the coast on the development of the marine layer and clouds, the ageostrophy of the flow, the dynamics of trapped events, the parameterization of surface fluxes, and the supercriticality of the marine layer.

Based in Monterey, California, the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) C-130 Hercules and the University of North Carolina Piper Seneca obtained a comprehensive set of measurements on the structure of the marine layer. The study focused on the effects of prominent topographic features on the wind. Downstream of capes and points, narrow bands of high winds are frequently encountered. The NCAR-designed Scanning Aerosol Backscatter Lidar (SABL) provided a unique opportunity to connect changes in the depth of the boundary layer with specific features in the dynamics of the flow field.

An integral part of the experiment was the use of numerical models as forecast and diagnostic tools. The Naval Research Laboratory's Coupled Ocean Atmosphere Model System (COAMPS) provided high-resolution forecasts of the wind field in the vicinity of capes and points, which aided the deployment of the aircraft. Subsequently, this model and the MIUU (University of Uppsala) numerical model were used to support the analysis of the field data.

These are some of the most comprehensive measurements of the topographically forced marine layer that have been collected. SABL proved to be an exceptionally useful tool to resolve the small-scale structure of the boundary layer and, combined with in situ turbulence measurements, provides new insight into the structure of the marine atmosphere. Measurements were made sufficiently far offshore to distinguish between the coastal and open ocean effects. COAMPS proved to be an excellent forecast tool and both it and the MIUU model are integral parts of the ongoing analysis. The results highlight the large spatial variability that occurs directly in response to topographic effects. Routine measurements are insufficient to resolve this variability. Numerical weather prediction model boundary conditions cannot properly define the forecast system and often underestimate the wind speed and surface wave conditions in the nearshore region.

This study was a collaborative effort between the National Science Foundation, the Office of Naval Research, the Naval Research Laboratory, and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration.

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