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Xiao-Ming Hu
and
Ming Xue

Abstract

When assessed using the difference between urban and rural air temperatures, the urban heat island (UHI) is most prominent during the nighttime. Typically, nocturnal UHI intensity is maintained throughout the night. The UHI intensity over Dallas–Fort Worth (DFW), Texas, however, experienced frequent “collapses” (sudden decreases) around midnight during August 2011, while the region was experiencing an intense heat wave. Observational and modeling studies were conducted to understand this unique phenomenon. Sea-breeze passage was found to be ultimately responsible for the collapses of the nocturnal UHI. Sea-breeze circulation developed along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico during the daytime. During the nighttime, the sea-breeze circulation was advected inland (as far as ~400 km) by the low-level jet-enhanced southerly flow, maintaining the characteristics of sea-breeze fronts, including the enhanced wind shear and vertical mixing. Ahead of the front, surface radiative cooling enhanced the near-surface temperature inversion in rural areas through the night with calm winds. During the frontal passage (around midnight at DFW), the enhanced vertical mixing at the leading edge of the fronts brought warmer air to the surface, leading to rural surface warming events. In contrast, urban effects led to a nearly neutral urban boundary layer. The enhanced mechanical mixing associated with sea-breeze fronts, therefore, did not increase urban surface temperature. The different responses to the sea-breeze frontal passages between rural (warming) and urban areas (no warming) led to the collapse of the UHI. The inland penetration of sea-breeze fronts at such large distances from the coast and their effects on UHI have not been documented in the literature.

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Jinxin Wang
and
Xiao-Ming Hu

Abstract

This study evaluated the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model sensitivity to different planetary boundary layer (PBL) schemes (the YSU and MYJ schemes) and urban schemes including the bulk scheme (BULK), single-layer urban canopy model (UCM), multilayer building environment parameterization (BEP) model, and multilayer building energy model (BEM). Daily reinitialization simulations were conducted over Dallas–Fort Worth during a dry summer month (July 2011) and a wet summer month (July 2015) with weaker (stronger) daytime (nocturnal) UHI in 2011 than 2015. All urban schemes overestimated the urban daytime 2-m temperature in both summers, but BEP and BEM still reproduced the daytime urban cool island in the dry summer. All urban schemes reproduced the nocturnal urban heat island, with BEP producing the weakest one due to its unrealistic urban cooling. BULK and UCM overestimated the urban canopy wind speed, while BEP and BEM underestimated it. The urban schemes showed prominent impact on daytime PBL profiles. UCM + MYJ showed a superior performance than other configurations. The relatively large (small) aspect ratio between building height and road width in UCM (BEM) was responsible for the overprediction (underprediction) of urban canopy temperature. The relatively low (high) building height in UCM (BEM) was responsible for the overprediction (underprediction) of urban canopy wind speed. Improving urban schemes and providing realistic urban parameters were critical for improving urban canopy simulation.

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Xiao-Ming Hu
,
Ming Xue
, and
Xiaolan Li

Abstract

Since the 1950s, a countergradient flux term has been added to some K-profile-based first-order PBL schemes, allowing them to simulate the slightly statically stable upper part of the convective boundary layer (CBL) observed in a limited number of aircraft soundings. There is, however, substantial uncertainty in inferring detailed CBL structure, particularly the level of neutral stability (z n ), from such a limited number of soundings. In this study, composite profiles of potential temperature are derived from multiyear early afternoon radiosonde data over Beijing, China. The CBLs become slightly stable above z n ~ 0.31–0.33z i , where z i is the CBL depth. These composite profiles are used to evaluate two K-profile PBL schemes, the Yonsei University (YSU) and Shin–Hong (SH) schemes, and to optimize the latter through parameter calibration. In one-dimensional simulations using the WRF Model, YSU simulates a stable CBL above z n ~ 0.24z i , while default SH simulates a thick superadiabatic lower CBL with z n ~ 0.45z i . Experiments with the analytic solution of a K-profile PBL model show that adjusting the countergradient flux profile leads to significant changes in the thermal structure of CBL, informing the calibration of SH. The SH scheme replaces the countergradient heat flux term in its predecessor YSU scheme with a three-layer nonlocal heating profile, with f nl specifying the peak value and z * SL specifying the height of this peak value. Increasing f nl to 1.1 lowers z n , but to too low a value, while simultaneously increasing z * SL to 0.4 leads to a more appropriate z n ~ 0.36z i . The calibrated SH scheme performs better than YSU and default SH for real CBLs.

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Youcun Qi
,
Jian Zhang
,
Qing Cao
,
Yang Hong
, and
Xiao-Ming Hu

Abstract

Mesoscale convective systems (MCSs) contain both regions of convective and stratiform precipitation, and a bright band (BB) is often found in the stratiform region. Inflated reflectivity intensities in the BB often cause positive biases in radar quantitative precipitation estimation (QPE). A vertical profile of reflectivity (VPR) correction is necessary to reduce such biases. However, existing VPR correction methods for ground-based radars often perform poorly for MCSs owing to their coarse resolution and poor coverage in the vertical direction, especially at far ranges. Spaceborne radars such as the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) Precipitation Radar (PR), on the other hand, can provide high resolution VPRs. The current study explores a new approach of incorporating the TRMM VPRs into the VPR correction for the Weather Surveillance Radar-1988 Doppler (WSR-88D) radar QPE. High-resolution VPRs derived from the Ku-band TRMM PR data are converted into equivalent S-band VPRs using an empirical technique. The equivalent S-band TRMM VPRs are resampled according to the WSR-88D beam resolution, and the resampled (apparent) VPRs are then used to correct for BB effects in the WSR-88D QPE when the ground radar VPR cannot accurately capture the BB bottom. The new scheme was tested on six MCSs from different regions in the United States and it was shown to provide effective mitigation of the radar QPE errors due to BB contamination.

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Xiao-Ming Hu
,
John W. Nielsen-Gammon
, and
Fuqing Zhang

Abstract

Accurate depiction of meteorological conditions, especially within the planetary boundary layer (PBL), is important for air pollution modeling, and PBL parameterization schemes play a critical role in simulating the boundary layer. This study examines the sensitivity of the performance of the Weather Research and Forecast (WRF) model to the use of three different PBL schemes [Mellor–Yamada–Janjic (MYJ), Yonsei University (YSU), and the asymmetric convective model, version 2 (ACM2)]. Comparison of surface and boundary layer observations with 92 sets of daily, 36-h high-resolution WRF simulations with different schemes over Texas in July–September 2005 shows that the simulations with the YSU and ACM2 schemes give much less bias than with the MYJ scheme. Simulations with the MYJ scheme, the only local closure scheme of the three, produced the coldest and moistest biases in the PBL. The differences among the schemes are found to be due predominantly to differences in vertical mixing strength and entrainment of air from above the PBL. A sensitivity experiment with the ACM2 scheme confirms this diagnosis.

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Guo Lin
,
Zhien Wang
,
Conrad Ziegler
,
Xiao-Ming Hu
,
Ming Xue
,
Bart Geerts
, and
Yufei Chu

Abstract

The magnitude of water vapor content within the near-storm inflow can either support or deter the storm’s upscale growth and maintenance. However, the heterogeneity of the moisture field near storms remains poorly understood because the operational observation network lacks detail. This observational study illustrates that near-storm inflow water vapor environments are both significantly heterogeneous and different than the far-inflow storm environment. This study also depicts the importance of temporal variation of water vapor mixing ratio (WVMR) to instability during the peak tornadic seasons in the U.S. Southeast and Great Plains regions during the Verification of the Origins of Rotation in Tornadoes Experiment Southeast 2018 (VSE18) campaign and the Targeted Observation by Radar and UAS of Supercells (TORUS) campaign, respectively. VSE18 results suggest that the surface processes control WVMR variation significantly in lower levels, with the highest WVMR mainly located near the surface in inflows in the southeast region. In contrast, TORUS results show more vertically homogeneous WVMR profiles and rather uniform water vapor distribution variation occurring in deep, moist stratified inflows in the Great Plains region. Temporal water vapor variations within 5-min periods could lead to over 1000 J kg−1 CAPE changes in both VSE18 and TORUS, which represent significant potential buoyancy perturbations for storms to intensify or decay. These temporal water vapor and instability evolutions of moving storms remain difficult to capture via radiosondes and fixed in situ or profiling instrumentation, yet may exert a strong impact on storm evolution. This study suggests that improving observations of the variability of near-storm inflow moisture can accurately refine a potential severe weather threat.

Significance Statement

It has long been recognized that better observations of the planetary boundary layer (PBL) inflow near convective storms are needed to improve severe weather forecasting. The current operational networks essentially do not provide profile measurements of the PBL, except for the sparsely spaced 12-hourly sounding network. More frequent geostationary satellite observations do not provide adequately high vertical resolution in the PBL. This study uses airborne lidar profiler measurements to examine moisture in the inflow region of convective storms in the Great Plains and the southeastern United States during their respective tornadic seasons. Rapid PBL water vapor variations on a ∼5 min time scale can lead to CAPE perturbations exceeding 1000 J kg−1, representing significant perturbations that could promote storm intensification or decay. Severe thunderstorms may generate high-impact weather phenomena, such as tornadoes, high winds, hail, and heavy rainfall, which have substantial socioeconomic impacts. Ultimately, by contrasting characteristics of the convective storm inflow in the two regions, this study may lead to a more accurate assessment of severe weather threats.

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Xiao-Ming Hu
,
Petra M. Klein
,
Ming Xue
,
Julie K. Lundquist
,
Fuqing Zhang
, and
Youcun Qi

Abstract

Previous analysis of Oklahoma City (OKC), Oklahoma, temperature data indicated that urban heat islands (UHIs) frequently formed at night and the observed UHI intensity was variable (1°–4°C). The current study focuses on identifying meteorological phenomena that contributed to the variability of nocturnal UHI intensity in OKC during July 2003. Two episodes, one with a strong UHI signature and one with a weak signature, were studied in detail using observations along with simulations with the Weather Research and Forecasting model. Mechanical mixing associated with low-level jets (LLJs) played a critical role in moderating the nocturnal UHI intensity. During nights with weak LLJs or in the absence of LLJs, vertical mixing weakened at night and strong temperature inversions developed in the rural surface layer as a result of radiative cooling. The shallow stable boundary layer (SBL < 200 m) observed under such conditions was strongly altered inside the city because rougher and warmer surface characteristics caused vertical mixing that eroded the near-surface inversion. Accordingly, temperatures measured within the urban canopy layer at night were consistently higher than at nearby rural sites of comparable height (by ~3°–4°C). During nights with strong LLJs, however, the jets facilitated enhanced turbulent mixing in the nocturnal boundary layer. As a consequence, atmospheric stability was much weaker and urban effects played a much less prominent role in altering the SBL structure; therefore, UHI intensities were smaller (<1°C) during strong LLJs. The finding that rural inversion strength can serve as an indicator for UHI intensity highlights that the structure of the nocturnal boundary layer is important for UHI assessments.

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Xiao-Ming Hu
,
Ming Xue
,
Petra M. Klein
,
Bradley G. Illston
, and
Sheng Chen

Abstract

Many studies have investigated urban heat island (UHI) intensity for cities around the world, which is normally quantified as the temperature difference between urban location(s) and rural location(s). A few open questions still remain regarding the UHI, such as the spatial distribution of UHI intensity, temporal (including diurnal and seasonal) variation of UHI intensity, and the UHI formation mechanism. A dense network of atmospheric monitoring sites, known as the Oklahoma City (OKC) Micronet (OKCNET), was deployed in 2008 across the OKC metropolitan area. This study analyzes data from OKCNET in 2009 and 2010 to investigate OKC UHI at a subcity spatial scale for the first time. The UHI intensity exhibited large spatial variations over OKC. During both daytime and nighttime, the strongest UHI intensity is mostly confined around the central business district where land surface roughness is the highest in the OKC metropolitan area. These results do not support the roughness warming theory to explain the air temperature UHI in OKC. The UHI intensity of OKC increased prominently around the early evening transition (EET) and stayed at a fairly constant level throughout the night. The physical processes during the EET play a critical role in determining the nocturnal UHI intensity. The near-surface rural temperature inversion strength was a good indicator for nocturnal UHI intensity. As a consequence of the relatively weak near-surface rural inversion, the strongest nocturnal UHI in OKC was less likely to occur in summer. Other meteorological factors (e.g., wind speed and cloud) can affect the stability/depth of the nighttime boundary layer and can thus modulate nocturnal UHI intensity.

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John W. Nielsen-Gammon
,
Xiao-Ming Hu
,
Fuqing Zhang
, and
Jonathan E. Pleim

Abstract

Meteorological model errors caused by imperfect parameterizations generally cannot be overcome simply by optimizing initial and boundary conditions. However, advanced data assimilation methods are capable of extracting significant information about parameterization behavior from the observations, and thus can be used to estimate model parameters while they adjust the model state. Such parameters should be identifiable, meaning that they must have a detectible impact on observable aspects of the model behavior, their individual impacts should be a monotonic function of the parameter values, and the various impacts should be clearly distinguishable from each other.

A sensitivity analysis is conducted for the parameters within the Asymmetrical Convective Model, version 2 (ACM2) planetary boundary layer (PBL) scheme in the Weather Research and Forecasting model in order to determine the parameters most suited for estimation. A total of 10 candidate parameters are selected from what is, in general, an infinite number of parameters, most being implicit or hidden. Multiple sets of model simulations are performed to test the sensitivity of the simulations to these 10 particular ACM2 parameters within their plausible physical bounds. The most identifiable parameters are found to govern the vertical profile of local mixing within the unstable PBL, the minimum allowable diffusivity, the definition of the height of the unstable PBL, and the Richardson number criterion used to determine the onset of turbulent mixing in stable stratification. Differences in observability imply that the specific choice of parameters to be estimated should depend upon the characteristics of the observations being assimilated.

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Cheng Liu
,
Evgeni Fedorovich
,
Jianping Huang
,
Xiao-Ming Hu
,
Yongwei Wang
, and
Xuhui Lee

Abstract

Entrainment is critical to the development of the atmospheric convective boundary layer (CBL), but little is known about how entrainment is impacted by the aerosol radiative effect. An aerosol radiation transfer model is used in conjunction with large-eddy simulation (LES) to quantify the impact of aerosol shortwave radiative heating on entrainment and thermodynamics of an idealized dry CBL under aerosol-loading conditions. An entrainment equation is derived within the framework of a zero-order model (ZOM) with the aerosol radiative heating effect included; the equation is then examined against the LES outputs for varying aerosol optical depths (AODs) and free-atmosphere stratification scenarios. The results show that the heat flux profiles become more nonlinear in shape as compared to the case of the clean (no aerosol pollution) CBL, with the degree of nonlinearity being highly dependent on the AOD of the layer for the given type of radiation-absorbing aerosols. As AOD increases, less solar radiation reaches the surface and thus the surface heat flux becomes smaller, and both actual (LES) and ZOM-derived entrainment flux ratios decrease. This trend is opposite to the clean CBL where the LES-predicted flux ratios show an increasing trend with diminishing surface heat flux, while the ZOM-calculated flux ratio remains constant. The modified dimensionless entrainment rate closely follows the −1 power law with a modified Richardson number. The study suggests that including the aerosol radiative effect may improve numerical air quality predictions for heavy-air-pollution events.

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