Convective Plumes in the Planetary Boundary Layer, Investigated with an Acoustic Echo Sounder

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  • 1 Wave Propagation Laboratory, ERL, NOAA, Boulder, Colo. 80302
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Abstract

The turbulent temperature structure and winds in thermal convective plumes over prairie grassland have been investigated with an acoustic echo sounder system. Three spaced acoustic antennas, with two inclined at 45° elevation, were used to provide plume shape information and Doppler-derived total wind-vector patterns between heights of 70 and 500 m. Supporting in situ measurements were made on a 15 m tower, with a tethered balloon-supported Boundary Layer Profiler, and from a light aircraft. The most probable orientation of the plumes was nearly vertical, but frequent upwind and downwind tilts were also observed. Maximum positive vertical velocities in the plumes at midday were near 2 m s−1, while maximum downward currents were one-half this value. Acoustic echoes from regions above the mixed layer, corresponding in height to an elevated temperature inversion, correlate well with regions of maximum wind shear.

Abstract

The turbulent temperature structure and winds in thermal convective plumes over prairie grassland have been investigated with an acoustic echo sounder system. Three spaced acoustic antennas, with two inclined at 45° elevation, were used to provide plume shape information and Doppler-derived total wind-vector patterns between heights of 70 and 500 m. Supporting in situ measurements were made on a 15 m tower, with a tethered balloon-supported Boundary Layer Profiler, and from a light aircraft. The most probable orientation of the plumes was nearly vertical, but frequent upwind and downwind tilts were also observed. Maximum positive vertical velocities in the plumes at midday were near 2 m s−1, while maximum downward currents were one-half this value. Acoustic echoes from regions above the mixed layer, corresponding in height to an elevated temperature inversion, correlate well with regions of maximum wind shear.

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