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SANFORD R. MILLER and WOODROW W. DICKEY

Abstract

General aspects of the problem of forecasting precipitation in northeast Colorado are discussed and the forecast area described. A precipitation day for the area is defined on the basis of the number of cooperative weather stations reporting precipitation. Variables with prognostic value in determining upslope flow and, consequently, precipitation in northeast Colorado, are discussed. To obtain a forecasting method, the variables are combined by graphical correlation techniques. The method is tested on independent data; the results are consistent with those obtained on the original data and show a skill score above chance of 50 percent.

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R-C. Lien, B. Sanford, and W-T. Tsai

Abstract

Measurements of small-scale vorticity, turbulence velocity, and dissipation rates of turbulence kinetic energy ε were taken in a littoral fetch-limited surface wave boundary layer. Drifters deployed on the surface formed convergence streaks with ∼1-m horizontal spacing within a few minutes. In the interior, however, no organized pattern of velocity, vorticity, or turbulence mixing intensity was found at a similar horizontal spatial scale. The turbulent Langmuir number La was 0.6–1.3, much larger than the 0.3 of the typical open ocean, suggesting comparable importance of wind-driven turbulence and Langmuir circulation. Observed ε are explained by the wind-driven shear turbulence. The production rate of turbulence kinetic energy associated with the vortex force is about 10−7 W kg−1, slightly smaller than that generated by the wind-driven turbulence. The rms values of the streakwise component of vorticity σ ζ|| and the vertical component of vorticity σ ζz have a similar magnitude of ∼0.02 s−1. Vertical profiles of ε, σ ζ||, and σ ζz showed a monotonic decrease from the surface. Traditionally, surface convergence streaks are regarded as signatures of Langmuir circulation. Two large-eddy simulations with and without Stokes drift were performed. Both simulations produced surface convergence streaks and vertical profiles of ε, vorticity, and velocity consistent with observations. The observations and model results suggest that the presence of surface convergence streaks does not necessarily imply the existence of Langmuir circulation. In a littoral surface boundary layer where surface waves are young, fetch-limited, and weak, and La = O(1), the turbulence mixing in the surface mixed layer is primarily due to the wind-driven shear turbulence, and convergence streaks exist with or without surface waves.

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Alexander W. Fisher, Lawrence P. Sanford, and Steven E. Suttles

Abstract

The spatiotemporal variability of wind stress dynamics in Chesapeake Bay has been investigated using a combination of observations and numerical modeling. Direct measurements of momentum and surface heat fluxes were collected using an ultrasonic anemometer deployed on a fixed tower in the middle reaches of Chesapeake Bay in the spring of 2012 along with collocated wave measurements. These measurements were compared to bulk estimates of wind stress using wave-dependent formulations of the Charnock parameter (alpha). Results indicate that a constant alpha value of 0.018 reasonably represents observed stress values, but estimates can be improved by the inclusion of surface wave information in the parameterization of alpha. Using a wave age formulation of alpha in combination with an optimally interpolated 10-m neutral wind field, a third-generation numerical wave model, Simulating Waves Nearshore (SWAN), was employed to investigate the spatiotemporal variability of wind stress across the estuary. Alpha values were found to be wind speed dependent and displayed spatial distributions that ranged between open-ocean values and strongly fetch-limited values. Model results suggest that variable wind stress dynamics stemming from a combination of variable surface winds and fetch-limited wave growth may result in the 10-m neutral drag coefficient varying by a factor of 2 across the estuary. Up to 20% of these changes can be directly attributed to the effects of variable waves.

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Alexander W. Fisher, Lawrence P. Sanford, and Malcolm E. Scully

Abstract

Observations of turbulent kinetic energy, dissipation, and turbulent stress were collected in the middle reaches of Chesapeake Bay and were used to assess second-moment closure predictions of turbulence generated beneath breaking waves. Dissipation scaling indicates that the turbulent flow structure observed during a 10-day wind event was dominated by a three-layer response that consisted of 1) a wave transport layer, 2) a surface log layer, and 3) a tidal, bottom boundary layer limited by stable stratification. Below the wave transport layer, turbulent mixing was limited by stable stratification. Within the wave transport layer, where dissipation was balanced by a divergence in the vertical turbulent kinetic energy flux, the eddy viscosity was significantly underestimated by second-moment turbulence closure models, suggesting that breaking waves homogenized the mixed surface layer to a greater extent than the simple model of TKE diffusing away from a source at the surface. While the turbulent transport of TKE occurred largely downgradient, the intermittent downward sweeps of momentum generated by breaking waves occurred largely independent of the mean shear. The underprediction of stress in the wave transport layer by second-moment closures was likely due to the inability of the eddy viscosity model to capture the nonlocal turbulent transport of the momentum flux beneath breaking waves. Finally, the authors hypothesize that large-scale coherent turbulent eddies played a significant role in transporting momentum generated near the surface to depth.

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Malcolm E. Scully, Alexander W. Fisher, Steven E. Suttles, Lawrence P. Sanford, and William C. Boicourt

Abstract

Measurements made as part of a large-scale experiment to examine wind-driven circulation and mixing in Chesapeake Bay demonstrate that circulations consistent with Langmuir circulation play an important role in surface boundary layer dynamics. Under conditions when the turbulent Langmuir number Lat is low (<0.5), the surface mixed layer is characterized by 1) elevated vertical turbulent kinetic energy; 2) decreased anisotropy; 3) negative vertical velocity skewness indicative of strong/narrow downwelling and weak/broad upwelling; and 4) strong negative correlations between low-frequency vertical velocity and the velocity in the direction of wave propagation. These characteristics appear to be primarily the result of the vortex force associated with the surface wave field, but convection driven by a destabilizing heat flux is observed and appears to contribute significantly to the observed negative vertical velocity skewness.

Conditions that favor convection usually also have strong Langmuir forcing, and these two processes probably both contribute to the surface mixed layer turbulence. Conditions in which traditional stress-driven turbulence is important are limited in this dataset. Unlike other shallow coastal systems where full water column Langmuir circulation has been observed, the salinity stratification in Chesapeake Bay is nearly always strong enough to prevent full-depth circulation from developing.

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Alexander W. Fisher, Lawrence P. Sanford, Malcolm E. Scully, and Steven E. Suttles

Abstract

The role of surface gravity waves in structuring the air–sea momentum flux is examined in the middle reaches of Chesapeake Bay. Observed wave spectra showed that wave direction in Chesapeake Bay is strongly correlated with basin geometry. Waves preferentially developed in the direction of maximum fetch, suggesting that dominant wave frequencies may be commonly and persistently misaligned with local wind forcing. Direct observations from an ultrasonic anemometer and vertical array of ADVs show that the magnitude and direction of stress changed across the air–sea interface, suggesting that a stress divergence occurred at or near the water surface. Using a numerical wave model in combination with direct flux measurements, the air–sea momentum flux was partitioned between the surface wave field and the mean flow. Results indicate that the surface wave field can store or release a significant fraction of the total momentum flux depending on the direction of the wind. When wind blew across dominant fetch axes, the generation of short gravity waves stored as much as 40% of the total wind stress. Accounting for the storage of momentum in the surface wave field closed the air–sea momentum budget. Agreement between the direction of Lagrangian shear and the direction of the stress vector in the mixed surface layer suggests that the observed directional difference was due to the combined effect of breaking waves producing downward sweeps of momentum in the direction of wave propagation and the straining of that vorticity field in a manner similar to Langmuir turbulence.

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Thomas B. Sanford, Peter G. Black, James R. Haustein, James W. Feeney, George Z. Forristall, and James F. Price

Abstract

The response of the ocean to hurricanes was investigated using aircraft-deployable expendable current profilers (AXCP). The goals were to observe and separate the surface wave and surface mixed layer (SML) velocities under the storms and to map the across-track and along-track velocity and temperature response in the mixed layer and thermocline. Custom instrumentation was prepared, including slower failing AXCPs, and the AXCP equipment was installed on NOAA WP-3D aircraft. Research flights were made into two 1984 hurricanes: Norbert, in the eastern Pacific off Baja California (19°N, 109°W), and Josephine, off the east coast of the United States (29°N, 72°W). Thirty-one probes were deployed in each hurricane, and about half the AXCPs provided temperature and velocity profiles. Most velocity profiles exhibited strong surface wave contributions, slablike velocities in the SML, strong shears beneath the SML, and only weak flows in the upper thermocline. Separation of the surface gravity wave velocities from the steady and inertial motions was obtained by fitting the profiles to steady flows and shears in three layers and to a single surface wave at all levels. The velocity profiles displayed large divergences to the horizontal SML velocities in the wake of the hurricanes. The observations show a strong enhancement of SML velocities to the right of the storm as expected from numerical simulations. The largest SML velocities were 1.1 m s−1 in Norbert and 0.73 m s−1in Josephine. Numerical simulations will be compared with the observations in Part II.

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D. R. Smith, M. A. Rosenthal, J. P. Mulvany, W. Sanford, W. R. Krayer, B. L. Smith, B. S. Palko, J. J. Matkins, G. J. Koester, R. L. Lees, and P. A. McKinstry

For the third consecutive year mid-Atlantic Atmospheric Education Resource Agents (AERAs) conducted a regional workshop for educators on hazardous weather. This workshop attracted teachers from New York to Georgia for sessions by Project ATMOSPHERE AERAs, meteorologists from the National Weather Service, universities, the media, and private industry, who addressed a variety of topics pertaining to the impact of severe weather. As has been the case with the previous workshops, this event represents a partnership of individuals from schools, government agencies, and the private sector that enhances science education and increases public awareness of hazardous weather conditions.

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